CLEVELAND – LeBron James has joined one of the NBA’s most exclusive clubs.
Cleveland’s superstar was voted the league’s MVP for the second straight year, a person familiar with the announcement told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not announced the results of the vote.
James, who averaged 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.6 assists this season, will receive the trophy Sunday at the University of Akron. The presentation by commissioner David Stern will come in front of Cleveland’s fans. The Cavaliers play the Boston Celtics on Monday in Game 2 of their second-round playoff series.
James is the 10th NBA player to be the MVP in consecutive seasons. The 25-year-old star joins Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash. Russell, Chamberlain and Bird won it three times in a row.
“I don’t think anyone deserved it over LeBron,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “LeBron could get it every year. It’s his award to lose. That’s how it is with certain players. Jordan didn’t win it every year. Jordan could have won it every year. But the criteria was apparently a little different.”
James’ win was expected after he had the finest season of his seven-year pro career. What remains to be seen is his margin of victory. Last season, James received 109 of 121 first-place votes, winning in a landslide in voting by a nationwide media panel of sports writers and broadcasters over Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who won the award in 2008.
The Plain Dealer of Cleveland first announced that James won the award.
For the second straight year, James will accept the award in his hometown. A year ago, he went back to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, his alma mater, for a ceremony in the school’s gymnasium that was attended by family, friends, former teachers and the student body.
As a high school star, James played many of his games at Rhodes Arena on Akron’s campus. James also holds his summer basketball camps at the university and the Zips are coached by Keith Dambrot, who coached the All-Star for a time in high school.
James, paired this season with center Shaquille O’Neal to help Cleveland win its first NBA title, led the Cavaliers to 61 wins in the regular season and the top seed in the playoffs. Cleveland’s lineup was constantly changing because of injuries, but the Cavs could always count on James, the first forward in league history to average more than eight assists a game.
James delivered nightly jaw-dropping highlights, many of them coming at the defensive end on chase-down blocks. His value was never more obvious than when he sat out the Cavaliers’ final four games, and they lost each one.
Despite playing with a strained and bruised right elbow, James averaged 31.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.2 steals as the Cavaliers eliminated Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.
“I give a lot of credit to my teammates, the coaching staff and my family,” James said last week when asked about winning a second MVP. “It solidifies a lot of hard work and dedication I was able to put in the offseason to try to get better as an individual and bring it to this team.”