NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
The finalists for the 2016-17 KIA Most Valuable Player are… #NBAAwards https://t.co/x6XN6CdreY2017-5-20 00:04:17
James is not lacking accolades in his career; he won four MVP awards in a five-season span from 2009-13. But it's hard to imagine handing out an award for the NBA's most valuable player without including the 32-year-old.
Sports Illustrated had some fun with James' being left off the final MVP ballot by using an old press conference clip for his hypothetical reaction:
Sports Illustrated @SInow
LeBron James' reaction to not being named a finalist for the 2016-17 NBA MVP award https://t.co/notRSRrTtP https://t.co/TiZgF2phdR2017-5-20 00:21:43
ESPN's Rachel Nichols tied James' snubbing into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cavs and Boston Celtics on Friday at TD Garden:
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__Nichols
1) @NBAonTNT announces that Russ, James Harden & Kawhi are the three Finalists for MVP. 2) Someone tells LeBron, 15 minutes before tipoff 3)2017-5-20 00:17:37
The NBA on TNT had a similar take, though it provided James' hypothetical reaction in video form:
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
LeBron eats MVP ballots for breakfast… Seems to make him stronger? https://t.co/42rfeBpjgw2017-5-20 00:31:00
Since James is on a streak of seven straight playoff games with at least 30 points, it's safe to assume he will use this platform to send a message to the voters who didn't deem him worthy of being a finalist.
NBA All Access did note a two-year trend in MVP voting:
NBA All Access @nballaccess
KAWHI LEONARD has finished ahead of LEBRON JAMES in the MVP race in back to back season.. Nah, that's just not right2017-5-20 00:06:08
Last year, Leonard was the runner-up, and James finished third when Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was the first unanimous MVP winner in NBA history, winning the award for the second consecutive year.
Sam Vecenie of Sporting News noted two MVP criteria that may have prevented James from claiming one of the top three spots:
Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie
If MVP is “most valuable regular season,” think it’s fair LeBron is out. If it’s “best player,” yeah LeBron should be first.2017-5-20 00:19:23
Here are the best-of-the-rest reactions to James' not being an MVP finalist:
LeBron not a finalist for 2017 MVP??? https://t.co/TOtgESbdSq2017-5-20 00:36:42
Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA
Someone tell LeBron James he wasn't even a top 3 finalist for MVP so we get to watch this version of LeBron: https://t.co/yXvHUwipQg2017-5-20 00:37:38
Josh Eberley 🇨🇦 @JoshEberley
LeBron is about to go to his fourth straight finals, regarded as the best player unanimously over that span and not one MVP to show for it.2017-5-20 00:19:43
Tommy Beer @TommyBeer
LeBron 2016-17: 26.4 ppg (54.7 FG%), 8.6 rpg, 8.7 apg 14-15 MVP S Curry: 23.8 (48.7%)/ 4.3/ 7.7 10-11 MVP D Rose: 25.0 (44.5%)/ 4.1/ 7.72017-5-20 00:41:57
Westbrook, Harden and Leonard all have compelling cases as the NBA's best player for the 2016-17 campaign. Westbrook set a new NBA record with 42 triple-doubles and averaged a triple-double for the season—the first to do so since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62. Harden led the league in assists and finished second in scoring behind Westbrook.
Leonard is arguably the NBA's best all-around player, combining a terrific scoring prowess with nearly impossible to beat defensive acumen.
Yet James impacts games in ways no player in the NBA can match. He can score at will—just ask Kelly Olynyk—distributes the ball as well as any pure point guard and will fight in the paint to secure the rock.
James has reached Michael Jordan territory in that he could reasonably make a case for the MVP award every year. Instead, it seems he has to settle for being the league's best player.