LeBron James on NBA MVP Discussion: Lakers Winning Games 'All I Care About'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 7, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

LeBron James is a contender for the Most Valuable Player award after an impressive stretch of games, but the Los Angeles Lakers star is more concerned with team success.

He discussed with reporters what being in the MVP conversation means to him on Thursday (8:40):

"If my name continues and my name starts to be in the MVP conversation, then I'm happy about it in the sense that it means the Lakers are winning basketball games," James said. "And that's what I want. That's all I care about."

An MVP seemed out of the question earlier in the season, considering how far the Lakers were down the standings. However, the team has looked better recently, winning three games straight to improve to 20-19 on the year.

The team entered Thursday with the sixth-best record in the Western Conference, which would be just ahead of the play-in bracket.

James has been playing at a high level, averaging 34.3 points and 9.8 rebounds over the past nine games. He is averaging 28.6 points per game on the season—his highest since 2009-10 during his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers—while adding 7.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry has been considered a favorite to win MVP through the first half of the NBA season, but LeBron currently averages more points, assists and rebounds per game this year and even has a higher effective field goal percentage (.593 to .545).

James has four career MVP awards, but he hasn't won since 2012-13 despite putting up consistently impressive stats each year. He finished second in voting behind Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2019-20 but was out of the conversation during an injury-plagued 2020-21.

A bounce-back season has reminded fans and voters that he is still among the best players in the NBA, although he will need the Lakers to win more games to take home a fifth MVP.