LeBron James could soon be in rarefied company.
He appears all but a few short weeks away from becoming the fifth player in NBA history to have won at least four regular season Most Valuable Player awards.
Like LeBron, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving and Moses Malone each have three to their name.
The only four players with four or more?
A couple of guys named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan (five), Bill Russell (five) and Wilt Chamberlain (four).
If James does take home the award this year, he'd be the first since the NBA/ABA merger to win four regular season MVPs in five seasons.
With the Miami Heat riding a 23-game winning streak and counting, James' MVP resume looks stronger than ever. A few of the league's other superstars won't let James take home the award without a fight, though.
To be featured as a top MVP candidate here, a player must either be amongst a league leader in a major statistical category, his team's undisputed best player or on one of the teams with the best records in the league.
Does anyone have a chance of stopping James from entering top-five all-time MVP status?
Find out here what it'll take.
Note: Statistics and records current through games played on March 17, except where otherwise noted. Last week's rankings here.
In alphabetical order:
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Since the Memphis Grizzlies traded Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol has seen an expanded role offensively. In March, he's averaging 17.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 blocks per game through 11 games.
With Gay gone, the Grizzlies will rely upon Gasol and Zach Randolph to provide the inside force that can guide them through the playoffs. He'll earn more Defensive Player of the Year buzz than MVP votes but his overall excellence deserves to be recognized, too.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers
Paul George falls out of the top 10 this week due to a recent bout of subpar shooting efficiency and a few tough losses by his Indiana Pacers.
He shot only 6-of-20 in a 99-93 loss to a Los Angeles Lakers team that only sported Kobe Bryant for 12 minutes, then finished 6-of-17 the next night in a 98-91 loss to the moribund Philadelphia 76ers.
George has been otherwise solid, but combined with the Pacers' recent rockiness, he's only an MVP honorable mention this week.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have been up-and-down throughout March but Blake Griffin has been relatively consistent with his excellence. He dropped a triple-double on March 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks and is averaging 18.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game for the month.
Advanced metrics also give Griffin considerable creditability in the MVP race, as he ranks sixth in the league in win shares (9.5) and eighth in PER (23.8), according to Basketball Reference.
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets
The Miami Heat's 23-game win streak is drawing the nation's collective attention, but the Denver Nuggets just so happen to be on an 12-game winning streak of their own at the moment.
Ty Lawson has been a primary catalyst for the streak, averaging 19.8 points and 6.5 assists per game over the first 11 of those games, according to NBA.com/stats. Lawson doesn't rank anywhere near high enough in win shares or PER to stand a reasonable chance of finishing as a top-10 MVP candidate unless the Nuggets don't drop another game for the rest of the season, though.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
I continue to refuse to drop Tony Parker from the MVP honorable mentions despite him still being sidelined by a sprained ankle. The second Parker returns, he's going to rocket back up to being a top-10 MVP candidate, so there's no point in dropping him entirely off this list.
Before the injury, Parker had worked all the way up to being a top-three MVP candidate, with a top-five finish appearing all but certain.
While he may soon work his way back from the sprained ankle, he'll have work to do in the final month of the season if he hopes to finish within the top five of the final MVP voting.
Just missed the cut: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks; Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
Dropped from rankings: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Last week's ranking: 10
Stephen Curry responded to his All-Star snub by playing even more like an All-Star since mid-February.
After averaging 21 points on 43.4 percent shooting and 6.6 assists per game before the All-Star break, Curry exploded for 25.4 points on 47.6 percent shooting and 7.2 assists per game, since then.
He also leads the league in made three-point field goals (208) and ranks fourth in three-point shooting percentage (.450), making him the league's most dangerous deep threat this year.
The Golden State Warriors' grasp on the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs is tenuous at best—but that's not to blame Curry.
Besides a terrible shooting game in a blowout loss against the Chicago Bulls, the Dubs' star point guard has been sensational in the past month.
Curry won't garner much top-five MVP consideration due to the Warriors' shaky playoff standing, but he deserves at least a few top-10 votes.
Odds of winning MVP: 0.25 percent
Last week's ranking: 8
March hasn't been the kindest month to Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony injured his knee while playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 4 and missed the next three games as a result.
He came back to a 92-63 blowout at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, then re-injured the same knee two nights later against his former team, the Denver Nuggets.
In the two games that Anthony played before re-injuring the knee, he clearly wasn't the same player as earlier this season. He shot 4-of-15 from the field against the Warriors, followed by a 3-of-12 shooting night against the Nuggets.
He recently said that he thinks he won't be 100 percent healthy for the rest of the season, according to ESPNNewYork.com, raising doubts about just how much noise the New York Knicks can make in the playoffs.
That knee will prove to be Anthony's undoing in the MVP race, too.
It's not as though he had a realistic chance at taking home the award, but that knee could well knock him out of the top five of the final voting.
Odds of winning MVP: 0.25 percent
Last week's ranking: Honorable Mention
Tim Duncan jumps into the top 10 this week as the San Antonio Spurs keep on rolling even with Tony Parker still sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
The Spurs' offense has struggled at times in the absence of Parker, but Duncan has notably stepped up. Since Parker went out on March 1, Duncan has posted four double-doubles in six games, including a 28-point, 19-rebound night against Dallas and 30 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks against Cleveland.
The Big Fundamental was a standout MVP candidate early in the season before injuries took a toll in late January. It took him all of February to get back up to speed, but he's averaging 19.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.7 blocks per game through seven games in March.
Advanced metrics reflect Duncan's up-and-down season, as he ranks fifth in the league in PER (24.3) but only 25th in the league in win shares, according to Basketball Reference.
Had Duncan avoided the injury bug, he would have been a top-10 MVP candidate all season long.
If the Spurs can maintain their hold on the best record in the Western Conference while Parker remains sidelined, Duncan's MVP candidacy grows that much stronger. He won't finish in the top five at this point but Duncan should pick up at least a handful of votes for how strong he's been this season.
Odds of winning MVP: 0.5 percent
Last week's ranking: 7
The Russell Westbrook shot-selection debate has reared its ugly head again in recent weeks.
Since the start of February, Westbrook has taken at least 15 shots in 16 of the Oklahoma City Thunder's 21 games. In nine of those 16 games, however, Westbrook knocked down at least 50 percent of his field-goal attempts.
He struggled with his shooting efficiency in November (41.3 percent) and December (39.4 percent) but finished February shooting 50.3 percent from the field.
That momentum appears to have carried over to March, where he's averaging 25.3 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.9 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
In the Thunder's first 10 games of March, Westbrook finished with fewer than five assists just once, in a 91-79 win against the Boston Celtics.
He also corralled at least six rebounds in all but two of those 10 games.
Westbrook's biggest MVP hurdle—as always—is the presence of Kevin Durant on his team. If one Thunder player is going to take home the award this season, it's considerably more likely to be Durant than Westbrook.
Odds of winning MVP: 1 percent
Last week's ranking: 6
Considering how indispensable he's become, it's hard to believe that James Harden hasn't even been a Houston Rocket for a full season.
Without Harden, the Rockets would likely be one of the Western Conference's bottom feeders, angling for a top-10 draft pick rather than a playoff spot. Instead, he has the Rockets sitting with the West's seventh-best record at the moment.
Harden continues to lead the league in free-throw attempts (10.1 per game) and is one of only six players to be averaging at least 20 points, four rebounds and four assists per game, according to Basketball Reference.
He struggled with his shooting efficiency early in the season but bounced back considerably in February, finishing the month shooting 52.9 percent from the field.
Throughout the Rockets' first eight games of March, Harden averaged nearly 26 points, eight assists and six rebounds per game, also known as LeBron-esque numbers.
Harden ranks third in the league in win shares (11.3) and is tied with his former teammate Russell Westbrook for ninth in the league in PER (23.7), according to Basketball Reference.
Given LeBron's historically great season, it's difficult to see a player from the seventh-best team in the West taking home the MVP award. Harden would need to average a triple-double from this point forward to have even a remote chance, realistically.
Odds of winning MVP: 1.5 percent
Last week's ranking: 3
Kobe Bryant's sprained left ankle is the only reason he tumbled a bit in this week's MVP rankings.
I'm no doctor but I'm pretty sure that you're not supposed to have a golf-ball-sized lump on your ankle like Bryant currently does.
Whether you're on team Kobe or team Dahntay Jones in the did-he, didn't-he intentionally injure Bryant debate, the ankle proved balky enough to limit Bryant to only one quarter combined on March 15 and March 17.
To make matters worse, Bryant also came down with the flu over the weekend. The Lakers haven't lost any ground in the playoff race since Bryant went down on March 13, but the longer he's out, the more tenuous their grasp on the playoffs becomes.
Considering how well Bryant had been playing pre-ankle injury, Lakers fans can only pray that the Mamba heals up this week like Wolverine of the X-Men.
There's no replacing someone who's the only player in the league besides LeBron averaging at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists per night, according to Basketball Reference.
Advanced analytics won't make Bryant's MVP case sound stellar, as he's eighth in the league in win shares (9.1) and 11th in PER (23.1), according to Basketball Reference.
The way he's willed the Lakers back into the playoff chase, on the other hand, should earn him some top-five MVP buzz for the rest of the season, so long as he can return from the ankle injury and flu relatively soon.
Odds of winning MVP: 2 percent
Last week's ranking: 4
Chris Paul doesn't just fit one of the typical characteristics of an MVP candidate; he meets all three.
He's the league leader in steals (2.35 per game), is the unquestioned best player on his team (no offense, Blake Griffin) and plays for a team with the third-best record in the Western Conference.
The Los Angeles Clippers still have reason to be concerned about being a true contender in the West but that doesn't mean Paul can't be a top MVP candidate.
He's been predictably solid throughout March, never finishing a game with fewer than 11 points or eight assists.
Compared to other top superstars, Paul's been sensational in terms of protecting the ball, too. He's only averaging 1.4 turnovers per game in March compared to 10.4 assists per game, an assist-turnover ratio that any coach would happily take from his starting point guard.
Paul trails only LeBron James and Kevin Durant in terms of PER (26.3), and ranks fourth in the league behind James, Durant and Harden in win shares (11.), according to Basketball Reference.
He has little shot of finishing as a top-two MVP candidate but it'll be a major surprise if he ends up outside the top five.
Odds of winning MVP: 2 percent
Last week's ranking: 5
Dwyane Wade is the highest riser on this week's list and it's not just due to the Miami Heat's 23-game winning streak.
After struggling through the first month of the season, Wade has worked his way back into top form over the past few months. Wade scored at least 20 points in all 13 of Miami's games since February 23, and shot under 50 percent from the field only once in those 13 games.
For all the credit LeBron James has been getting for his unprecedented shooting efficiency, Wade actually shot better (56.3 percent) than James (47.5 percent) through Miami's first 10 games in March.
Wade now ranks fourth in the league in PER (24.9) behind only James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, and ranks ninth in win shares (8.9), according to Basketball Reference.
Miami's win streak certainly helps add legitimacy to Wade's resume as a top MVP candidate. But let's get one thing straight: Without Wade getting his groove back, Miami's win streak would have never gotten this far.
Odds of winning MVP: 2.5 percent
Last week's ranking: 2
If anyone can prevent LeBron James from being named the 2013 NBA MVP, it's Kevin Durant.
James' historical season has drawn attention away from Durant, but the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar has been sensational in his own right.
He took more offensive responsibility upon himself after the Thunder traded away James Harden and has been averaging a career-high 4.5 assists per game as a result.
His turnover numbers have skyrocketed in recent weeks, however. He's averaging 4.5 giveaways per game in March, which marks the first month that his per-game turnover numbers exceed his per-game assists.
Durant still holds the league lead in scoring (28.3 points per game) and is still hanging onto the 50-40-90 Club, shooting 50.6 percent from the field, 41.1 percent from three-point range and 90.8 percent from the free-throw line.
If Durant can maintain both the scoring lead and the 50-40-90 Club for the final 15 games of the season, he'd be the first player in NBA history to do both in one year.
Despite the evident growth in Durant's game, James still holds the statistical edge over him. Durant trails only James in both win shares (15.6) and PER (28.2), according to Basketball Reference.
James' numbers have dipped a bit in March, opening the door for Durant to make up some ground on him in the MVP race. Durant hasn't been able to take advantage, however, and now faces a massively uphill battle if he still has his sights on taking home the award this season.
Odds of winning MVP: 10 percent
Last week's ranking: 1
At this point, it's going to take a miracle to stop LeBron James from winning his fourth MVP award in five years.
In case James' insane run through February hadn't sealed the MVP for him, the Miami Heat's 23-game winning streak should be the final nail in the coffin for the other MVP contenders.
James is the best player on the team with the best record in the league and looks to have a pretty easy road back to the NBA Finals for the third straight year.
Whoever emerges from the Western Conference playoffs will be a worthy contender for James and the Miami Heat, but the Heat should be considered the favorite to repeat as champions at this point.
James cooled off a bit after averaging nearly 30 points per game on 64.1 percent shooting throughout February, but he still contributed 22.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game during Miami's first 10 games in March.
Despite playing two fewer games than Kevin Durant to date, James holds the league lead in win shares (15.9) and PER (30.9), according to Basketball Reference.
Between James' dominance in both per-game and advanced statistics and the Heat's simply ridiculous win streak, there's little that anyone can do to stop him from winning MVP.
Realistically, Miami would need to shut James down for the playoffs in the next week or two to give anyone else a chance of stealing the award at this point.
Odds of winning MVP: 80 percent