One of the top honors in the NBA is the Most Valuable Player award and this season presented a plethora of choices to bring home that hardware. Russell Westbrook and James Harden had historic seasons, while Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James continued their run of dominance.
When that list of candidates broke on TNT, James was not featured as a finalist and some might find that shocking. For months now, it was considered a four-man race and it was hard to single out one person who would be ranked fourth out of the eligible pool.
Word spread that The King was not aware of the outcome until slightly before game time and his play on Friday night looked like a man who believed he had been shortchanged. He posted 30 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three blocks in a 130-86 beatdown.
Here are the four best examples of the best season performances not to earn an MVP:
Chris Paul 2007-08
CP3 was flat out amazing this year even though Kobe Bryant ended up bringing home the award. He averaged over 20 points per game and 11 assists with only two turnovers. This was back in New Orleans with a supporting cast consisting of fellow All-Star David West.
The Point God became the second person after John Stockton to average at least 11 assists with less than three turnovers a game. That sort of control over the game has become a hallmark of his game while he has changed uniforms over the years, that has never left.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1972-73
Kareem did nothing but throw up 26 points, 14 boards and four assists in this marvelous season. Dave Cowens took home the trophy this year, but there is no denying the absolute talent on display from The Captain.
His PER ended up being a 28.5 and was helping keep the Bucks competitive in the Eastern Conference. Like LeBron, he probably would have won quite a few more MVP trophies if voter fatigue hadn’t settled in for him.
Shaquille O’Neal 2001-02
Tyronn Lue said that he feels like LeBron is like O’Neal because they could have both won MVP every single season. That is very true for prime Shaq who absolutely dominated the competition year in and out during the years of his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Diesel averaged 23 and 10 with a staggering 181 Win Shares for a Lakers squad that would be headed back to the Finals for the second year in a row. This season saw him plagued by injury, but there was no question that he was absolutely a game-changer when he played.
Michael Jordan 1988-89
Jordan averaged an amazing 31 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals as he absolutely set fire to the league. His PER was unmatched by anyone who came before him except Wilt Chamberlain.
This could have been any number of seasons where Jordan also suffered voter fatigue over the years and probably should have a few more trophies on his mantle. But, we shouldn’t weep too much for His Airness, there are plenty of other accolades he can fall back on.