LeBron James could win the NBA MVP award every single season, and it would be hard to argue against him. He’s the best player in the league—and the world—right now, and without him, the Cavaliers wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as they are.
But somehow, it’s been four years since LeBron James took home an NBA MVP award—he won the award in 2013 after also winning it in 2009, 2010, and 2012—and on Friday, he found out that he’s not going to win it this year, either. Even though he was considered to be in the running for the award, the NBA revealed that there are only three NBA MVP candidates at this time, and LeBron isn’t one of them. Instead, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard are going to duke it out for the award on June 26 when the NBA holds its first-ever NBA Awards.
It’s unclear if LeBron—who averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.7 assists during the 2016-17 regular season while leading the Cavaliers to a 51-31 record—knew that he’d been left off the NBA MVP list prior to Cleveland’s Eastern Conference Finals game against the Celtics on Friday night. But he definitely played like a guy who wasn’t happy about being left off it. He scored 30 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists in just 33 minutes during the Cavaliers’ 130-86 manhandling of Boston. And after the game, he spoke about being snubbed by the NBA with regards to the MVP award.
"What are you going to do about it at the end of the day?" he asked reporters. "My only job is to be the MVP for this team every night, put my teammates, put our franchise in position to be successful and ultimately compete for a championship. For me, I know what I bring to the table. This league knows what I bring to the table. That’s for you guys to write about. It’s not for me to be concerned about."
LeBron didn’t seem to show any frustration about being left off the NBA MVP list during his post-game press conference. But according to an ESPN.com report, he did seem to suggest that he couldn’t believe he had finished outside the top three in NBA MVP voting as he left TD Garden in Boston later in the night.
"Fourth?" he reportedly said in the presence of several Cavaliers beat reporters. "I haven’t been fourth in a long time."
As ESPN.com pointed out, it’s the first time in almost a decade that LeBron finished in fourth in the NBA MVP voting. The last time it happened was in 2008. It’ll be interesting to see how LeBron uses it as motivation as he continues to work his way through the playoffs.