Lakers' LeBron James Says Warriors' Stephen Curry Should Win 2020-21 NBA MVP Award

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 17, 2021

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, left, pressures Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

In LeBron James' eyes, his Los Angeles Lakers will be facing the league MVP in Wednesday's Western Conference play-in tournament.

He told reporters Stephen Curry is "the MVP of our league this year," adding that the Golden State Warriors star "has had, in my opinion, the best season all year."

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

"We’re playing vs. in my opinion the MVP of our league this year in Steph."<br><br>—LeBron with high praise of Steph before the Lakers-Warriors Play-In game 👀 pic.twitter.com/A8KDOUzCFp

The King also recognized Curry's ability to lead the short-handed Warriors throughout the season despite Klay Thompson, James Wiseman, Kelly Oubre Jr. and others being sidelined by injuries:

Melissa Rohlin @melissarohlin

LeBron James said everybody counted @StephenCurry30 out this season and questioned whether he could lead a team.<br><br>"He's done that and more," James said. <br><br>LeBron said he should win MVP.

While Nikola Jokic and Denver Nuggets fans may take issue with James' MVP pick, it is impossible to deny Curry's brilliance down the stretch this season.

He set the NBA record for the most three-pointers in a single month in April while averaging 37.3 points per game during the month. He then scored at least 30 in all but one of his eight games in May, including Sunday when he poured in 46 points behind nine made three-pointers to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies and clinch the No. 8 seed.

That showing was particularly important because it gave the Warriors some breathing room if they do lose to the defending champions in Wednesday's contest.

Whoever loses between the Lakers and Warriors will face the winner of the game between the No. 9 Grizzlies and No. 10 San Antonio Spurs. The winner of that game will then be the No. 8 seed, while the winner of the Golden State against Los Angeles matchup will be the No. 7 seed.

A showdown between Curry and James is about all the league could have asked for with its experimental play-in tournament format, as fans will surely tune in to watch the two players who have defined this generation of basketball and championships square off.

The last time there was an NBA Finals without either Curry or James—or both—was in 2010 when the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics.

That level of success breeds mutual respect, and it is clear James has that for Curry given these comments. Perhaps Jokic can use it as bulletin board material if Los Angeles eventually plays the Nuggets in the later rounds of the playoffs.