LeBron James is your 2012-13 MVP. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule
In early February, I wrote a piece for this site in which I broke down the MVP race between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. In it, I stated that while the two were as close to even as humanly possible, Durant had the slight edge, since his team was playing a bit better and he had taken his game to a higher level. I also made it clear, however, that the race was far from over and that by season’s end, James could easily end up looking like the true MVP.
It ended up happening a lot sooner.
As soon as that column was published, both LeBron and the Heat went into overdrive. They’ve won 21 games in a row and James has looked superhuman at times, playing the best basketball of his career and looking better than anyone since Jordan at his absolute peak. Durant has played extremely well and he’s a very deserving runner-up, but for this season, it feels like the MVP race isn’t a race anymore. It’s simply a matter of whether or not LeBron can get 100 percent of the vote.
LeBron’s most notable feat during the Heat’s winning streak came in the middle of February, when he had six straight games of scoring 30 or more points while also shooting better than 60 percent from the field. His efficiency during that stretch was remarkable, but to those who witnessed it, it went far beyond that. It was about dominance. LeBron made it so abundantly clear during that stretch that he was the best player in the league that the MVP candidacy of Durant, Chris Paul or anyone else started to feel like a joke. Just being the most talented player in the league generally isn’t enough to clinch the MVP, but he looked so much better than everyone else and more importantly, it seemed like the Heat couldn’t lose with James playing at this level. And so far, they haven’t.
Of course, James did run into a few disappointing games during this stretch. In a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on March 1, he was held to just 18 points on 4-for-14 from the field, including just four points in the first three quarters. But even then, LeBron was still effective and played a key role in the Heat’s victory. He had 10 assists in that game, setting up tons of easy points for his teammates and despite being cold all game, he hit a huge 3 in the final minutes that all but assured victory for the Heat. That might explain the value of LeBron better than anything else–even when he’s off his game, he still helps his team immensely.
For the first few months of the season, when the Heat were slightly underachieving, it was intriguing to think that perhaps we’d have a legitimate battle for MVP honors this season, but it’s all too clear that LeBron is the only logical choice. There is simply no one else in this league who can match both his immense talent and his ability to channel that talent into victory after victory. Kevin Durant is an amazing player and under normal circumstances, he’d be a perfectly acceptable MVP candidate. But this year? It’s LeBron’s world and the rest of the NBA is just living in it.