LeBron James ‘Would Love’ to Win the Defensive Player of the Year Award

by March 13, 2012

In addition to his usual mind-blowing offensive numbers, LeBron James has done an outstanding job defensively as well (guarding virtually every position on the floor at some point this season), and he has his eyes set on the award that Dwight Howard has dominated over the last three seasons. (Oh, and of course a little thing called the MVP, for good measure.) From ESPN: “Only two players in league history have won MVP and defensive player of the year awards in the same season. Hakeem Olajuwon was the last to do it following the 1993-94 season. Michael Jordan was first during the 1987-88 season. ‘I would love to do it,’ James said. ‘I take as much pride in defense as I do in offense. And that’s every night. It doesn’t matter what Coach says my matchup is before the game. I know it’s going to be more than that (certain player). And I’ve got no problem with that. It would mean a lot to be considered.’ Discussing his own standing among potential candidates is an uncomfortable conversation for LeBron. He’d almost rather talk about things he’d do differently in handling his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami as a free agent in 2010. So when asked if he believes he should be considered for defensive player of the year, LeBron quickly steered the discussion up the Florida Turnpike toward Howard, who has won it three consecutive seasons. ‘We’ve got a monster in Dwight Howard not too far from (Miami),’ James said. ‘You take him off that team, there’s nothing there. You get to the hole every time. He’s definitely won it for a reason.’ […] Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he spent significant time meeting privately with LeBron last season about embracing the burden he would have to carry in Miami defensively. This season, the communication is less verbal, and sometimes all it takes is a nod between the two. ‘We went through a lot of the ramifications and teaching points last year, so this year it’s much more efficient,’ Spoelstra said. ‘Frankly, we need him to be the most dynamic defensive player in the league for us to be successful. It changes from game to game. Sometimes we need him to be the head of the defense. Sometimes we need him to be the back line, a free safety. He has that type of ability, but also the mindset to do it. Most guys wouldn’t have that mindset or commitment.’ […] And this point also is where LeBron allows his performance to do the pontificating. He has friends lobbying on his behalf. Heat guard Dwyane Wade told the Associated Press last week that he hopes to see LeBron pick up both awards. Wade wants to attend both press conferences for historical value. ‘He’s doing things that probably nobody else in the league has ever been asked to do,’ Heat forward Chris Bosh said of LeBron’s defensive requirements. “I mean, really, who is doing that?’”