LeBron James of the Miami Heat became the fifth four-time winner of the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player award and will receive the trophy before tonight’s playoff game against the Chicago Bulls.
James received 120 of 121 first-place votes and missed becoming the first unanimous winner as Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks topped one ballot. Anthony was third in the voting behind Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I just try to be the best player on the court every single night when I step on the floor,” James said yesterday at a news conference.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the NBA MVP a record six times. Michael Jordan and Bill Russell claimed it five times and Wilt Chamberlain is the only other four-time recipient.
James was named MVP in 2009, 2010 and 2012, making him and Russell the only players to earn the honor four times in a five-season span. James and Abdul-Jabbar are the only players to twice win the award in back-to-back seasons.
At 28, James is seven years younger than Jordan was when he received his last MVP award in 1998. Abdul-Jabbar won for the last time at 33, while Chamberlain and Russell were 31.
James averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists this season while shooting a career-best 56 percent. He was the only player in the league to lead his team in scoring, rebounds and assists, as the Heat ended the regular season with a league-best 66 wins and 16 losses.
During the first round of the playoffs, in which the Heat swept the Milwaukee Bucks, James averaged 24.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He’ll be presented with the MVP trophy tonight before Miami hosts the Bulls in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
James joined the Heat in July 2010 when he was traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted him first overall in 2003, and led Miami to an NBA title last season.
Voting for the MVP was conducted by a panel of 120 sportswriters and broadcasters through the U.S. and Canada, with one ballot representing a combined fan vote. James totaled 1,207 points and was followed by Durant with (765), Anthony (475), Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (289 points) and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers (184 points).