When the three finalists for the NBA MVP award were announced just before tipoff of Friday's Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, there was one noticeable name missing.
The three finalists - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard - are all certainly deserving candidates for the award, but anytime LeBron James doesn't make the shortlist, questions must be asked.
Even though the Cavaliers struggled down the stretch in the regular season, losing the No. 1 seed in the East to the aforementioned Celtics, LeBron once again had an outstanding year, setting a career-high in triple-doubles and averaging 26.4 points, 8.7 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game.
When asked about LBJ's MVP snub after a 130-86 beatdown of the Celtics, Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said he hadn't even heard the news yet:
"When did it come out?" Lue asks. When the reporter tells him it was announced just before tipoff of Friday's game, Lue continued with a laugh. "Well, he might have seen it then."
Lue was referring to James's Game 2 performance, which saw him absolutely dominate the Celtics to the tune of 30 points, seven assists, four rebounds, four steals and three blocks in only 33 minutes of court time.
Lue then addressed LeBron's snub, crediting Harden, Westbrook and Leonard for outstanding seasons, but saying James is like another all-time NBA great at the top of his game:
"Those guys had MVP seasons, and you have to give the award to some different people every now and then," he said in the video. "I look at LeBron like Shaq. Every year, he's the MVP and you could give him the award every year if you wanted to. You credit those (other) guys, but to me, LeBron's the MVP."
LeBron already has four MVP awards under his belt, with the last one coming in 2013, but he could have as many as seven or eight if the voters didn't get tired of voting for the same person year in and year out.
As long as King James continues to play at the level he's at right now, he'll be in the running for a few more MVP awards before his legendary career is over.
But, for right now, he has his sights set on a bigger prize - his fourth NBA championship. From the looks of things on Friday night, the Eastern Conference Finals will be another quick series for the Cavs.
Then, they'll have to wait to see who they'll play in the NBA Finals, which right now is looking like it will be a third-straight matchup between Cleveland and the Golden State Warriors.