LBJ, MVP

(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Will the above letters spell LeBron James, Most Valuable Player?

After 29 games played out of this season’s 72 outings, the answer is a resounding Yes. 

The NBA’s MVP award is one of the sporting world’s most coveted. Given that the league’s 30 teams have a roster of 15 players each, that’s a total of 450 of the best ballplayers among the planet’s 7.7 billion inhabitants. And of that elite group, one will emerge brightest.

This 2021-2022 season, LBJ is the oddsmakers pick to win his 5th MVP crown. Thus far — including yesterday’s 30-point, 13-rebound win — he has averaged 25.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game. He doesn’t lead the NBA with those stats. But the MVP award was never purely about numbers. At times, it’s the intangibles that matter. Why LBJ for MVP?

First, LeBron is 36 years old. This matters. Longevity and consistency matter. Given that he was snubbed for the MVP plum last year (losing to Giannis), he might be the sentimental choice this season.

Second, LeBron leads the NBA with the Real Plus-Minus statistic. He’s No.1 followed by Steph Curry, CJ McCollum, Paul George and Joel Embiid. What’s “Real Plus-Minus (RPM)?” It’s the “+/-” number in the box score and it’s the net change in score (plus or minus) while the player is on the court. To me, this figure is very, very important.

Third reason: LeBron is shooting amazing three-pointers. As of today, he’s shooting 38.1% from beyond the arc. Only his 2012-13 season with Miami, when he averaged 40.6%, was higher. His career average is 34.5%. He does the “Logo Three by LeBron,” shooting near the half court line. His most famous shot was when he unleashed a no-look 3-pointer from the corner, winning a bet against Dennis Schroder.

Fourth, it’s this comment by coach Frank Vogel: “LeBron does it on both sides of the ball. That why he’s probably going to be this year’s MVP, carrying the load offensively and quarterbacking the defense. No. 1 defense in the league and taking these tough assignments and making these plays down the stretch.”

Fifth, the Lakers are en route to another title run. I know, I know, we’re not even halfway through the season. But with Montrezl, Caruso, Kuzma, THT, KCP and Gasol, it’s hard to see anyone stopping the Lakers, even with AD’s recent calf strain injury.

Which brings me to the question: On his 18th year, what motivates King James? 

LeBron wants to play with his son LeBron Raymone. Now 16 years old (and standing 6-foot-2), Bronny will graduate from high school in 2023. This means that the son can do what his dad did, move straight from HS to the NBA. It’s no secret that LeBron wants to play alongside Bronny. This father-and-son combo has never happened in the NBA. The closest was baseball when Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. played MLB in 1990 and 1991.

Reason # 2: Be the GOAT. Michael Jordan is the undisputed Greatest Of All Time. But if LBJ matches MJ’s six NBA crowns and he overtakes Kareem to become the all-time scorer, then I’d pick King James over Air Jordan.

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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