Carmelo Anthony (right) kept LeBron James from a unanimous MVP selection. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
On Sunday, LeBron James won his fourth MVP award in five seasons. The controversy: It wasn't a unanimous selection.
James received 1,207 points and 120 out of a possible 121 first-place votes, with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony receiving one vote. James beat out, in order: Thunder forward Kevin Durant (765 points), Anthony (475 points), Clippers guard Chris Paul (289 points) and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (184 points).
“It was probably a writer out of New York who didn’t give me that vote,” James said Sunday of Anthony’s first-place vote. “We know the history between the Heat and Knicks so I get it.”
He couldn't have been more wrong. On Monday, Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn explained why he voted for Anthony over James.
When the voting was announced Sunday afternoon, I was flabbergasted to learn I was the lone voter among 121 to not give LeBron a first-place vote, truly believing Anthony, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and perhaps even Kobe Bryant would snag a first-place vote or two....
The perception that I knew the other 120 voters cast their first-place votes for LeBron and that I went against the grain as some kind of statement is inaccurate. I have covered the league for years, watched Jordan lose the 1996-97 MVP to Karl Malone, and understand that for one season, certain players just elevate their games. I thought Anthony was the most valuable player to his team this season, not the best player in the league.
James, 28, emerged as the landslide favorite for his second consecutive MVP as he led Miami to a league-best 66-16 record that included a 27-game winning streak. The nine-time All-Star averaged 26.8 points, eight rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals. He shot a career-high 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range. James also led the league in Player Efficiency Rating for the sixth straight season.
Anthony, also 28, led the league in scoring (28.7 points per game) and helped the Knicks capture their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years despite injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler. The Knicks, 54-28, won 16 of 18 games to close the regular season.
Here's more from Washburn:
If you were to take Anthony off the Knicks, they are a lottery team. James plays with two other All-Stars, the league’s all-time 3-point leader, a defensive stalwart, and a fearless point guard. The Heat are loaded.
If LeBron was taken away from the Heat, they still would be a fifth or sixth seed. He is the best player of this generation, a multifaceted superstar with the physical prowess of Adonis, but I chose to reward a player who has lifted his team to new heights.
No player has ever been a unanimous MVP selection. In 2001, Shaquille O'Neal earned 120 of 121 possible first-place votes; Allen Iverson received the other first-place vote.