LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said Friday night he was “pissed off” to learn that he only received 16 first-place votes for the 2019-20 NBA MVP award that went to Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“It pissed me off. That’s my true answer,” he said after the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 126-114 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. “It pissed me off because out of 101 votes, I got 16 first-place votes. That’s what pissed me off more than anything. Not saying the winner wasn’t deserving of the MVP, but that pissed me off.”
James, 35, came in second place. It was the fourth time the four-time MVP has been a runner-up for the award.
“I finish second a lot in my career, either from a championship and now four times as an MVP,” he said. “I never came into this league saying, ‘Let me be an MVP or be a champion.’ I’ve always said I wanted to get better and better every single day and those things will take care of itself. Some things are just out of my hand. Some things you just can’t control, but it pissed me off.”
Antetokounmpo, 25, joined elite company with Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to earn MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season. James reminded the media that he was on track to be the third member of that select group seven years ago.
“The voting scale is a little weird to me sometimes,” James continued. “If you take 2012-13, I had a chance to be Defensive Player of the Year and also MVP in the same season. And that year Marc Gasol was rewarded Defensive Player of the Year, but he made second-team All-Defense. OK, so, that doesn’t make sense. That’s like being MVP of the league, but you make second team All-NBA. That’s when I really started to look at things a little bit differently. How does that even make any sense? That’s like being Rookie of the Year, but you make second-team All-Rookie. … I don’t know how much we’re really watching the game of basketball or [watching] the narrative.”
James made it clear that he wasn’t saying he should have won; he was arguing the disparity in votes. The Lakers star left the arena still perturbed, tweeting: “16 out of 101! Ok cool. I got y’all.”
“He deserves it,” Anthony Davis said of James after the Lakers big man posted a game-high 37 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. “What he’s been able to do for our team, things he’s been doing individually on a consistent basis, night in and night out, it’s not even a question who deserves it.”
Davis also suggested that players should be a part of the voting process. Right now the honor is only selected by media members.
James waited for Davis to finish his presser Friday night like he always does. When Davis concluded, he approached James playfully and asked him if he needed a hug.
James clarified that he was pissed when he found out about the voting results, but he suggested that he was at peace and that he’d sleep well.
“I’m fine. Don’t get it twisted. I’m going back to my room perfectly fine,” he said. “We’re up 1-0 in the Western Conference finals. I’m absolutely fine. I was pissed off at the reaction earlier when I saw it. I’m absolutely great now. I'm going back to my room [to] drink some wine and sleep very well tonight.”
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