Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award four times, highlighted by two back-to-back trophies.
But even in the years that he did not get the recognition from the league, James has been one of the largest recipients of votes from the sportswriters who decide on the award. In fact, based on our research, he has received the second-most love from these voters in league history.
We looked at the MVP voting from each season and awarded points based on every player who finished in the Top 10. Those who won the trophy received 10 points while runner-ups received nine. We then worked backward with a decreasing point assignment until the player who finished tenth in MVP votes received one point.
This favors players who were among the most elite of the elite several times in their professional basketball careers.
Based on this exercise, James finished at No. 2 overall – the same place he finished in the controversial rankings from Bleacher Report last month. But unlike in that list, where LeBron finished behind Michael Jordan, he trailed only six-time NBA Most Valuable Player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for this.
Jordan often appears at No. 1 overall when fans discuss the greatest player of all-time for obvious reason: he is a five-time MVP and six-time NBA champ, never losing a title series.
But this research reminds us that longevity may deserve a bigger factor in the GOAT debate. This is one of the few knocks against MJ, who didn’t have as long of a career as some of the other greats who top this list.
Another surprising takeaway: Chris Paul, who has never won the MVP, is ranked Top 25 based on this metric. That is somehow ahead of both Stephen Curry and Steve Nash, both of whom have won back-to-back MVPs. This indicates just how often Paul had been towards the top of consideration for the honor.
One player who finished very low on this list is Bill Walton, who was named Most Valuable Player in 1978. Despite the trophy, he ranked No. 55 when he was compared to all players in league history based on MVP voting.
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