LeBron James isn’t just drawing praise for his MVP-caliber season from those within the Los Angeles Lakers organization. Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard — who James and the Lakers could meet in the first round of the playoffs — is also backing him for the NBA’s top honor.
Lillard joined the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and said his vote would go to James, although he wouldn’t argue if someone thought Milwaukee Bucks star and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was worthy.
“I don’t think you can go wrong with LeBron or Giannis, but in my opinion…I think it’s LeBron. Just because he’s the number one seed in the Western Conference, I feel like he’s had a dominant season to be in year seventeen, leading the league in assists, the level that they had been playing at right before the season was suspended,” Lillard told Patrick. “I don’t think it should be any argument with either guy getting the award, but I would say LeBron because of how he’s been able to take that team from a non-playoff team, and now they just jump to number one. … I think LeBron is definitely worthy of being the MVP”
James led the Lakers to the top of the Western Conference and adapted his game in Year 17 to exactly what the team needed. At the time of the stoppage, James was averaging 34.9 minutes per games, 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. He also notched a league-leading 10.6 assists, which was also a career-high. The MVP would be the fifth of LeBron’s career.
Magic Johnson: No Better Leader in Sports Than LeBron
James candidacy for the Most Valuable Player also got an endorsement from Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
“LeBron James is definitely the MVP this season,” Johnson said in a Tweet on Tuesday morning. “He is almost averaging a triple double with 25 points, 10 assists, and basically 8 rebounds per game. His defense has been amazing and there is no better leader in sports!”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel thinks there’s no question that James is the MVP after his first season getting a first-hand look at The King. Vogel pointed out two games just before the NBA season went on hold where James dominated against the Clippers and Bucks.
“In that weekend, LeBron took the toughest assignment in both games. He guarded Kawhi in the Clippers game and did a great job with him there. And then he guarded Giannis in the Bucks game when AD was in foul trouble and did a great job in those two situations,” Vogel said on a video conference call with reporters Saturday. “I think that weekend was probably a great indicator or a great measuring stick.
“Nobody impacts winning more than LeBron James. I do believe that he should be the MVP this year,” Vogel added. “I believe he should be the MVP and I believe Anthony Davis should be the Defensive Player of the Year. I hope those awards go to our two players.”
LeBron James Not Concerned About MVP
Sure, James wouldn’t mind adding another MVP trophy to his mantle. But award or not, he’s proved his point that he can compete in any conference.
“As far as the MVP race I think I’ve shown what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “Not only individually, but from a team perspective with us being No. 1 in the West. There was a lot of conversation about ‘LeBron can do those things in the East but if he ever came to the West what can he do?’ I heard all of that, and to be able to have our team at the top of the Western Conference and playing the way we were playing at the time and the way I was playing, that’s definitely a good feeling.”
Earlier in the season, James said the MVP was never a motivation for him to perform well during the year.
“Regular season MVP has never motivated me,” James told reporters. “To be the best to ever play the game has motivated me and it’s resulted in me being able to be league MVP a couple of times.”