LeBron James: Love Him or Hate Him, He's the NBA's Most Valuable Player

Jeremy BrownContributor IIJanuary 14, 2011

LeBron James is the MVP.
LeBron James is the MVP.Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The NBA’s Most Valuable Player isn’t Kobe Bryant. It’s not Dwight Howard. I may listen to you for a little with an Amar’e Stoudemire argument. And no Boston fans, the MVP isn't Rajon Rondo.

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is the MVP.

You can argue that someone playing side-by-side with the third best player in the NBA cannot be the league’s Most Valuable Player. But here’s why James is the MVP.

His scoring was supposed to drop significantly going to a team with so many scoring options, but James' average as only gone down two points.

He’s averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game. He’s the best defender on the league’s third-best defense, and anyone who has watched Miami this year marvels at the flow the Heat have with him on the court.

Look at Thursday’s 130-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets, which James missed with a sprained left ankle. The Heat still had Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and James Jones.

Mike Miller, the supposed final piece to the championship puzzle, even churned out 33 minutes. But he only put up four points.

Jones lit it up for six points. Wade was abysmal, shooting 7-19 for just 16 points and a meager four assists. Chris Bosh carried the load for the LeBron-less Miami squad, pouring in 24 points.

The Miami defense surrendered 34 points in the second quarter and 38 in the third. The season-high 130 total points given up was 37 points higher than the 93 points per game the Heat hold opponents to with James in the game.

“Hopefully, LeBron’s healthy for Saturday,” Wade said after Thursday’s beatdown.

Wade knows he needs James on the court for the Heat to be successful. Ask the Cavaliers how much they need LeBron. Going into Wednesday, the Cavaliers had lost 21 of 22 games. Meanwhile, the Heat had won 21 of 22.

Because of Wade? No. Because of James.

Wade is a great player, there's no denying that. But look at the Heat at Jan. 13, 2010. Wade had led the Heat to just a 19-18 record in a relatively weak Eastern Conference.

January 13, 2011? The Heat are 30-11 in a much more competitive Eastern Conference and have won 21 of their last 24 games overall.

Because of Wade? Obviously not by looking at last year’s record. It’s because of James.

The world has gained this view that James is the villain of the NBA. That he’s a terrible person for leaving Cleveland for South Beach. That he’s a self-absorbed celebrity.

Never has a player gone from beloved to hated as fast as James has this year. Not even Tiger Woods.

I understand people disagreeing with the way James handled “The Decision” and he’s become an easy target to dislike. But cut the guy some slack.

This supposed self-absorbed James admitted he needed help to win a championship and joined forces with elite players in Wade and Bosh. Is that really so bad?

I know the circumstances were different, but look at every great champion in NBA history and you’ll see they had at least one wingman supporting the load.

Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and late in his career picked up one of the best rebounders and defenders the leagues ever seen in Dennis Rodman.

Larry Bird had Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, and the older versions of Pete Maravich and Bill Walton. Talk about stacked.

Magic Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league's all-time leading scorer and not to mention “Big Game” James Worthy.  

Tim Duncan had David Robinson for his first championship and had Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for his other three titles.

Bill Russell had Bob Cousy and John Havlicek. Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor all had each other.

Dr. J. had Moses Malone. Olajuwon had Drexler and a Jordan-less NBA. Shaquille O'Neal had Kobe and then Kobe had Gasol.

You look at every single superstar with multiple championships and there’s a Hall of Famer by his side. So why is James taking so much heat for his decision to put himself in the best situation to win?

I get that most of the stars mentioned above didn’t leave their hometowns to resurrect their championship hopes, but last time I checked none of those players were playing in Cleveland with scrubs either.

The bottom line is James’ legacy should not be defined by his willingness to accept the fact that it’s going to take more than his absurd talents to win an NBA title. He’s won back-to-back MVP titles and deservedly so.

He probably won’t make it three in a row this year because of the media’s negative perception on his decision to form a “super-team.”

But I challenge you to find a player impacting a team more than James is impacting TWO teams right now. The Cavs are sitting at 8-30 without James while the Heat are cruising at 30-11 with him.

If those numbers don’t define the league’s Most Valuable Player for you then I guess the future championships he’ll win will have to suffice.

James may not win his third straight MVP this season, but I don’t think there’s even a question that he is indeed the Most Valuable Player in the NBA.


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