What a Fourth MVP Would Mean for LeBron James' Legacy

Brendan BowersContributor IIOctober 12, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 07:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat waits for play against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on October 7, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James winning a fourth MVP would further validate his decision to join the Miami Heat. It would mean that he is, without question, his era's best player. It would also require that his name be permanently attached to the single-greatest-player-in-NBA-history discussion, while helping to write his legacy in a way we always thought it could read.

Below are a few reasons why.


A fourth MVP would further validate LeBron's decision to join the Miami Heat

LeBron James was supposed to be exchanging his individual accomplishments for an NBA championship when he fled Cleveland for South Beach. In his second season with the Miami Heat, however, it became the LeBron James show all over again.

As opposed to diminishing his individual legacy by sharing the ball and spotlight with Dwyane Wade, LeBron enjoyed the best of both worlds. He was declared not only his team's best player last season but the league's best player, too. For a third time. Then Wade, Bosh and the rest of the Miami Heat helped him win his first NBA championship. 

Miami celebrated LeBron's individual accomplishments along the way last season. A second MVP alongside Wade, good for fourth overall, might be something only James himself thought possible back when he decided to leave.


A fourth MVP would mean that James is the best player from his era

Since LeBron James entered the NBA in 2003, there have been a total of six players to win an MVP Award. From that group, which includes Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, the only other player under 34 years old besides James is Rose.

LeBron enters the 2012-13 season at 27. 

During the nine seasons that LeBron James has been in the NBA, he is the only player to have won multiple MVP awards along with an NBA championship. Tim Duncan and LeBron James are the only active players to have accomplished that, with Duncan winning both of his MVPs before LeBron's rookie year.

While James, with one NBA championship, still doesn't trump Kobe's five rings, he doesn't have to.

Bryant represents the NBA era directly following Michael Jordan, LeBron James will go down in history as representing the era following that.

For as good as Shaquille O'Neal was, Dwyane Wade is and Kevin Durant will be, nobody's catching four MVPs. If LeBron does that this season, he officially puts his stamp on a 10-year stretch of NBA history that he individually dominated more than anyone else.


A fourth MVP would put LeBron amongst the single greatest players in NBA history

Four MVP Awards would allow LeBron James to enter an elite group with Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

They would be the only five players in NBA history to have ever won an MVP as many as four times.

It would give LeBron one more MVP award than Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, twice as many as Tim Duncan and three more than Julius Erving.

Being on this exclusive list would mean that LeBron's legacy would have to be referenced in any conversation about the single best player in NBA history.


Whether he wins three more NBA titles or tops out at one, it would be impossible to argue against LeBron's legacy with four MVPs. 


He'd prove to be the chosen one for good reason

In the world surrounding LeBron James prior to the 2011-12 NBA season, he was failing to meet expectations for the first time in his career.

Since 2003, LeBron had been expected to win an NBA championship. He didn't, then left for Miami to team up with Dwyane Wade and didn't win one there either.


Until last season.

If he wins one more MVP, LeBron's legacy would read like some imagined it would way back when he was in high school. For as crazy as being on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior is, winning four MVPs is even crazier.

If he does that, LeBron would have exceeded the individual-accomplishment expectations put in motion by the greatest hype machine to ever enter professional sports over 10 years ago.

To be fair, he's exceeded them already. But four MVPs?