MIAMI — LeBron James is the overwhelming choice as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.
The Miami Heat star took 120 of 121 first-place votes in this year’s balloting, giving him the award for the fourth time. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant finished second and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony was third.
James’ selection was not unanimous, despite plenty of suggestions from people around the league in recent weeks that he was worthy of that honor. Anthony received the only other first-place vote from a panel of broadcasters and sports writers who cover the league.
The NBA released the results Sunday, when James was presented with the award.
Shaquille O’Neal had been the closest to sweeping every first-place vote, taking 120 of a possible 121 in the 1999-2000 balloting.
James becomes the fifth player with at least four MVP awards, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. All four of James’ awards have come in a five-year span, something only done by Russell.
James averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists this season, leading Miami to a league-best 66-16 record while shooting a career-high 56 percent. It was no surprise that he won the award, given that it had been expected for months, with the lone questions being “When?” and “Was it unanimous?”
The first of those answers came Friday, when it was learned that Sunday would be the day. The other came not long before James was honored on the floor of the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, where the Heat will open an Eastern Conference semifinal series Monday night against the Chicago Bulls.
“The guy is as good as it gets,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.