Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James says he was left “pissedd off” after earning just 16 first place votes in the 2019-20 NBA MVP race.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season, after also winning Defensive Player of the Year award earlier in these NBA playoffs.
The 25-year-old Antetokounmpo becomes just the third player in league history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, joining only Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Antetokounmpo — who was in his native Athens, Greece, with his family when the award was announced — received 85 votes. There were 101 votes available; 100 from a panel of global sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league, plus one additional vote through fan balloting.
“It feels good to get this award announced when I’m back home,” Antetokounmpo said, after telling NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — who was in possession of the trophy Friday — to hang on to the hardware until he returns to the U.S.
“I’m going to ship it to Greece,” Silver said during the televised announcement show on NBA TV.
“No, don’t do that,” Antetokounmpo replied. “I’ll come get it when the season starts.”
It was James’ closest second-place finish, with 209 MVP voting points separating him and Antetokounmpo. In 2017-18, he finished 227 points behind James Harden. In 2005-06, he ended up 236 points behind Steve Nash. And in 2013-14, he was 341 points behind Kevin Durant.
James, 35, has won league MVP honors four times in his career (2009, ’10, ’12, ’13).
“I never came into this league to be MVP or to be a champion,” James said. “I’ve always just wanted to get better and better every single day, and those things will take care of itself. But some things is just out of my hand and some things you can’t control. But it pissed me off.”
James took aim at the undefined criteria for the award, which leaves voting up for interpretation. The NBA’s annual awards are voted by a global panel of 100 media members from across print and broadcast journalism, plus a single fan vote.
“I don’t know how much we are really watching the game,” James wondered aloud about the panel.
“I’m not going to sit up here and talk about what the criteria should be or what it is. It’s changed over the years since I’ve gotten into the league,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the best player on the best team. Sometimes it’s the guy with the best season statistically. Sometimes … I mean, you don’t know. You don’t know. But you know, Giannis had a hell of a season; I can definitely say that.”