It’s official! Miami Heat superstar LeBron James has won the 2011-12 Kia MVP Award. It’s the third time in his career, which places him alongside some of the game’s all-time greats … and also the first player since Michael Jordan to win at least three MVPs.
The league made the official announced on Saturday (May 12), revealing that the 27-year-old NBA star raked up 1,074 points, including 85 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 voters of sportswriters and broadcaster, as well as an NBA.com MVP fan vote.
Players were awarded 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five for third, three for fourth and one for each fifth-place vote received. Behind James in the voting was Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (889 points, 24 first-place votes), the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul (385, six first-place votes), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (352, two first-place votes), and San Antonio’s Tony Parker (331, four first-place votes).
It’s his third time winning MVP in four seasons. Just seven other players — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (5), Wilt Chamberlain (4), Larry Bird (3), Magic Johnson (3) and Moses Malone (3) — have at least three MVP trophies.
It was well-deserved as well. James led the Heat to a 46-20 mark and the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Despite averaging a career-low 37.5 minutes, the eight-time All-Star led the NBA in plus-minus score differential (+7.6) and ranked third in scoring (27.1 ppg), while pacing the Heat in assists (6.2 apg) and tying for the team lead in rebounds (7.9 rpg). He also recorded career bests in field goal percentage (.531) and three-point field goal percentage (.362).
While King James said last week that winning another MVP award “would be amazing”, he’s driven by something else — an NBA title. It’s the superstar’s ninth season in the league, and despite leading the Cavs, and Heat last season, to great regular season records, he hasn’t been able to win an NBA championship.
His yearning for the title is what drives his play, year end and year out.
“What I’m all about is team and ever since I was a kid, I was always taught it’s team first,” James told the AP on Friday (May 11). “My first time playing basketball, we went undefeated and won a championship and Frank Walker Sr. gave everyone on the team a MVP trophy. Right then and there, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to see my teammates reap the benefits as well.”
This season, James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game — making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two different seasons, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Bird (twice).
You can also add 53% shooting and 1.9 steals per game. Only Michael Jordan had a season with numbers exceeding what James did this season in those categories … in 1988-89, when he averaged 32.5 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and 2.9 steals on 54 percent shooting. Jordan wasn’t even the MVP that year, the trophy going to Johnson instead.
Others up for the award this season were OKC’s Kevin Durant, Clippers’ Chris Paul, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, and San Antonio’s Tony Parker.