Winning the Most Valuable Player award isn’t a motivating factor for LeBron James; being considered the G.O.A.T. is.
Speaking prior to his Friday night showdown with Giannis Antetokounmpo—this season’s MVP runaway front-runner—James told reporters that his four Maurice Podoloff trophies were a result of his drive to be the world’s greatest player.
To no one’s surprise, LeBron’s teammates and coaching staff are picking him over The Greek Freak for the award.
Per Sports Illustrated:
“To be the best to ever play the game has motivated me and has resulted in me being able to be league MVP a couple times,” James said at Lakers’ practice Thursday. “But I’ve never gone into the season saying, ‘OK, league MVP is what I want to be.’ I’ve gone into the season saying, ‘OK, I want to be the MVP of this team. I want to be the best player in the world,’ and how I approach my game every day, how I take care of my body every day has resulted in that [award].”
At age 35, James leads the league in a assists with 10.7 a game, while averaging 25.4 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Lakers, who have the best record in the Western Conference at 47-13.
“The things he does on the floor, he can shoot the ball, he can pass, he gets everyone involved,” [Anthony] Davis said. “He can take over games. I saw Kendrick Perkins say something that he got robbed of four MVPs because he was in the east or something like that. I mean, you guys see when LeBron’s off the floor, how our team operates. We kind of struggle a little bit with him off the floor. And I think it’s about who is most valuable to their team. And for me, just being around it this whole season, my vote goes to LeBron.”
On Thursday, James was asked how he ultimately judges whether he’s accomplished that goal after all is said and done.
“In being the best in the world?” James said. “It’s just, I think it’s the games that I play, leadership, how my teammates feed off my presence and feed off my word. It’s so much more than, for me, being the best player in the world than just going out and doing it on the floor. I think leadership has a lot to do with it. Having a command. Holding yourself accountable. Allowing others to hold you accountable as well. So I have a lot of tiers to trying to be the best player in the world. It’s not just about the basketball side.”