“I just felt like there was nothing good that was going to come out as far as the individual accolades,” James said. “I wanted to be an MVP for this team, but it didn’t matter to me what the outside world was saying. It didn’t matter what the voters were saying last year. It was just about this team.”
“I’m not saying that’s changed,” he added, “but I think time heals all.”
Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo won the MVP while playing for the Buffalo Braves in 1975. McAdoo said James had to deal with “absolute hate” last year after his move to Miami, and some believe the repercussions kept him from getting as many MVP votes as he may have deserved a year ago.
That’s no longer a problem.
“He’s already a Hall of Fame player. That’s in the bag,” McAdoo said. “If you ask him, a world championship or an individual award, he’ll take the world championship every time.”
Abdul-Jabbar was 26 when his third MVP season _ out of a record six _ ended. James is 27. Riley, the former Los Angeles Lakers coach during the Showtime era, has an affinity for both.
And he thinks he can see a parallel as well.
“He’s got 10 more years at least ahead of him at a very high level,” Riley said. “You just know his competitive nature and how he prepares himself and how he plays. That could be out there for him.”
James got the word about this MVP award Thursday. Longtime friend and close associate Randy Mims delivered the message because James couldn’t be reached when the call came. Of all the messages Mims has given James over the years, this one was unforgettable, he said.
“It was kind of an honor, honestly,” Mims said. “A huge honor. His response, it was like a breath of fresh air, like, `Wow, I did?’ I know what was put into this year, being part of it. I know what we went through last year and trying to just rebuild him, his game, some of the things he wanted to get back to doing as a person.”
James was out shopping Friday night when word began to spread that he won. Even though James already had spent a day processing the news, he said it was moving to hear others react.
“This is crazy,” James said.
James posed with the trophy Saturday and will get to show it off to Heat fans Sunday afternoon when presented with the prize again by Commissioner David Stern before Miami faces Indiana in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
James’ voice broke a couple of times as he spoke Saturday _ highly uncharacteristic for him _ and he confessed he was more nervous than he expected.
“I see my two sons, I do what I do and I try to perform at the highest level every night, and a big part of the reason is those guys. I don’t want to let them down,” James said, pausing for a brief moment as he looked at fiancée Savannah Brinson and his sons. “Secondly, my teammates, like I said. The reason I’m up here today is because of those guys. If those guys don’t sacrifice what they sacrifice every single night … I wouldn’t be up here.”View Entire Story
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