LeBron James recently revealed that he still harbors some hard feelings over the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award that he finished runner-up to Marc Gasol for.
The Los Angeles Lakers newest big man heard James’ gripe and fired back with a lighthearted jab.
“I always think that individual awards in the world of sports are very subjective. I don’t believe too much in them nor am I a supporter of them. What I’m clear about is that, more than for me, that award was for the Grizzlies,” Gasol told reporters. “It was for a way of working together. I was important in the outline, but Tony Allen should be in the conversation too. What matters now is next year’s DPOY, and he’s 35. A player like him can win it without any problems if that’s what he’s missing.”
James is a five-time selection on the All-Defensive team, but hasn’t garnered that honor since 2013. However, the DPOY honor is the lone hole on James’ long resume.
That being said, James got an alright consolation prize the year Gasol won the award — the MVP, one of four on his mantle.
The Lakers had a huge turnaround last year defensively, ranking third in defensive efficiency. Led by James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers allowed 107.6 points per game to opponents.
LeBron James Said He’s Not Motivated by Awards
In Year 17, James was still an MVP contender last season, leading the Lakers to the top seed in the Western Conference and the NBA title. Giannis Antetokounmpo ended up winning the award, but James made a good case — leading the league in assists at 10.3 to go with 25.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds.
“Regular season MVP has never motivated me,” James told reporters in the bubble. “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.”
However, James was pissed off because of the margin he lost to Antetokounmpo by. The Lakers star got just 16 first-place votes to the Greek Freak’s 85.
“Pissed me off. That’s my true answer,” James said during the Lakers playoff run after the voting was announced. “It pissed me off because out of 101 votes, I got 16 first-place votes. That’s what pissed me off more than anything. You know, not saying that the winner wasn’t deserving of the MVP. But that pissed me off. And I finished second a lot in my career, either from a championship, and now four times as an MVP.
“I never came into this league to be MVP or to be a champion. I’ve always just wanted to get better and better every single day, and those things will take care of itself. But some things is just out of my hand and some things you can’t control. But it pissed me off.”
Antetokounmpo recently doled out some big praise for James, admitting he’s the best in the world.
“It doesn’t matter who is the MVP. He is the best. I say so,” Antetokounmpo told Cosmote TV in Greece. “He is the best in the world. The day that I would be the best player in the world, I will step forward and say it.”
Marc Gasol Planning on Playing in Olympics
Gasol is looking to add to his resume as well with another NBA title with the Lakers this season. He previously won one in Toronto during the 2018-19 season. But the 35-year-old Spaniard is also hoping to win Olympic gold this year. Gasol said he’s committed to playing in the Olympics this year, looking to add the gold to his two silver medals.
“Hopefully, I arrive very tired and late at camp, which means we’ve played until the Final,” Gasol told reporters after signing with the Lakers. “We’ll see, my intention is always to be there, at least until this summer.
“As long as you can physically be there, there’s a willingness especially when you are getting older and you know the window is getting smaller each time, so you enjoy it even more. It gives each moment you spend with your teammates added meaning.”
The Lakers open the regular season on Dec. 22 at Staples Center.