LeBron James put together yet another spectacular season and will soon receive his fourth NBA regular season MVP award. While the results have not yet been announced, most predict James to be a close to unanimous pick for MVP honors. Needless to say, James will join a very limited group of guys by taking down the award yet again, but can he surpass them?
Only four players have been named league MVP four or more times in the history of the league. The list includes Wilt Chamberlain (4), Bill Russell (5), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6) and Michael Jordan (5). Very soon, LeBron will become the fifth name on this list.
Few all-time greats have managed to sustain such a high level of play to take down more than one or two MVP awards. Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson each have just one MVP award. Despite being extremely dominant in their own eras, all these players have not managed to outshine the opposition by as much as James has.
It is very hard to impress the judges year in and year out like James has done. Even though LeBron deserved the MVP award in 2011, Derrick Rose took the league by storm and was named most valuable player. Simply staying at the same level is no longer enough — you have to elevate your game every single year.
James has done just that and we still don’t know where his skill ceiling is. The fact that he will win his fourth MVP award, while only being 28 years old and still in his prime, certainly suggests he can win a couple more. Eventually, when James’ numbers start to decline a little, he will no longer gather as many votes. He has set an extremely high standard for himself, and while he will likely remain the best player in the league for years to come, it is no guarantee that he will take down more MVP awards.
LeBron still has two years before he hits 30, but Kevin Durant is tight on his heels. If he will ever catch up to Kareem, it will have to happen over the next two to three years.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis