McCollum discussed his MVP choice on The Boardroom with ESPN's Jay Williams:
James was attempting to chase down the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, the award's reigning winner, in what had become a two-player race for this year's top individual honor before the campaign was delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Antetokounmpo was the front-runner for most of the season, but James was surging. He tallied a combined 65 points, 17 assists and 16 rebounds in victories over the Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, the league's other top title contenders, in back-to-back games just before the season's suspension.
The Lakers superstar, who's won the MVP Award four times, told reporters in March his goals extend far beyond winning the trophy for a fifth time:
"To be the best to ever play the game has motivated me and has resulted in me being able to be league MVP a couple times. But I've never gone into the season saying, 'OK, league MVP is what I want to be.' I've gone into the season saying, 'OK, I want to be the MVP of this team. I want to be the best player in the world,' and how I approach my game every day, how I take care of my body every day has resulted in that [award]."
Here are the contenders' numbers:
- James: 25.7 PPG, 10.6 APG, 7.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 49.8 FG%
- Giannis: 29.6 PPG, 13.7 RPG, 5.8 APG. 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 54.7 FG%
Ultimately, both players are enjoying tremendous seasons and both are worthy of MVP honors, which will give the voters a difficult decision if and when the campaign eventually concludes.
It wouldn't be a surprise if James' Lakers and Antetokounmpo's Bucks meet in the NBA Finals, a matchup that could carry more meaning for both of them than the MVP Award.