So LeBron James is going to be the MVP of the NBA. A probability nearly as certain is that he will lead the Miami Heat to their second consecutive championship. A year of debilitating injuries to guys who could influence games’ outcomes, e.g. Rose, Rondo, Westbrook, Nash, Bryant, Griffin, Gallinari and Lee seemed to align the stars perfectly for a Miami repeat. Not that they weren’t poised for a repeat anyway, but if ever was there a year they could get by without Dwyane Wade at 100%, this one’s it.
Tomorrow’s MVP award will be his fourth, as many as Wilt, one shy of MJ and Bill Russell, two fewer than Kareem. It will also be his fourth in five years, the string split by Derrick Rose, who, after taking the entire year off in order to be 100% when he returns, could pose a threat to both accomplishments (MVP and NBA champion) in the future.
Michael and Russ accomplished the duel feat a record 4 times, Larry and Kareem twice, and eight others once. So, assuming the Heat live up to expectations, the championship would be theirs and LBJ would move into the company of Bird and Jabbar. Certainly elite company but, as anyone who knows LeBron, or has talked to him, or has read about him, or has heard about him, . . . understands is that elite company is not his goal. Unique is the level to which he aspires.
He turned 28 a little more than four months ago. He’s in better shape than 98% of the guys he plays against and has enough resources to keep up with any new advances in science and technology, be they in nutrition, strength training, flexibility, cardiovascular or psychological. How much longer can he play barring serious injury, at a championship/ MVP level? Eight more years puts him at 36. That’s a lot of hardware he could haul.
The obvious question then is: Is he the best player of all-time? Maybe it’s my age or when I was involved with basketball at a level just below the NBA but my answer could lie in an old joke:
“George Washington was first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen. First president of the United States. But he married a widow - which just goes to show, that no matter how hard you try, you can’t be first in everything.”