LeBron James Takes Issue With Former Lakers Teammate’s Award: ‘Kind of Stings’

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is missing something.

James – having amassed an NBA-record 20 All-Star appearances, 19 All-NBA honors, three MVPs, and four NBA championships – says there is one award that eludes him to the point that it “stings.”

“Defensive Player of the Year,” James said on the latest episode of “The Shop,” which the show teased on X on April 16. “That’s the only award that I don’t have in my house. It kind of stings – I’ve talked about this before – it don’t make sense … the year I finished second in Defensive Player of the Year award, the guy who won didn’t even make First-Team All-Defense.”

James compared himself to pop icon Beyonce. She has the most Grammy wins in history but has never won “Album of the Year”,

An NBA icon, James has earned six All-Defensive team honors.

Only one of them was not as a first-teamer. The season in question is 2012-13 when James finished second behind Marc Gasol. The two would become teammates on the Lakers during the 2020-21 season. But Gasol was with the Memphis Grizzlies for that fateful season.

LeBron James Calls Out Marc Gasol’s Defensive Player of the Year Award

That season, James won MVP while also notching All-NBA and All-Defensive team honors in addition to his second-place finish in the race for Defensive Player of the Year.

James would have joined Michael Jordan (1987-88), Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2020-21) as the only players to win the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year award in the same season.

Interestingly enough, Gasol’s was the second straight DPOY award handed to a player who failed to earn First-Team All-Defensive honors in the same season.

Tyson Chandler won in 2011-12 while making Second-Team All-Defense just like Gasol.

It has still only happened four times in the award’s 38-year history. That arguably underscores James’ point about it not making sense. That was the closest he came in the voting to win the award.

James’ defensive prowess has understandably waned in recent seasons.

The 39-year-old James can still call upon his natural abilities when necessary. But he is no longer the player who used to hawk smaller guards in crunch time.

Having that award on the mantle would be one way to shut down critics. It also would have been another feather in his cap in the debate for the greatest player of all time. Even as James declared himself the GOAT, this still bothers him.

It can be a double-edged sword for opponents.

Lakers Need Current Peak Version of LeBron James in Postseason

Just when they’ve grown accustomed to him sagging off or swiping rather than moving his feet on defense, he swoops in with a momentum-swinging block.

Offensively, that can be seen in his ability to knock down the three with incredible ease, especially compared to earlier in his career. James is shooting a career-high 41% from beyond the arc this season.

The Lakers will need the best version of James this postseason.

It helps that, even after all he’s accomplished in the NBA, he still has that kind of fire. Whether or not the Lakers can cash in on that this postseason remains to be seen.