LeBron James said his most recent second-place finish in the NBA's Most Valuable Player voting left him both angry and questioning the judgment of the voters.
The Los Angeles Lakers star finished with 16 of a possible 101 first-place votes, leaving him 209 points behind Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who earned the award for the second straight season. The winner was announced Friday.
Antetokounmpo received the other 85 first-place votes, which seems to be the sticking point for James.
"It pissed me off, because out of 101 votes, I got 16 first-place votes," James said. "That's what pissed me off more than anything.
"You know, not saying that the winner wasn't deserving of the MVP. But that pissed me off. And I finished second a lot in my career, either from a championship, and now four times as an MVP."
James, who also has won four MVPs, suggested the voting panel might not be well-informed.
"I don't know how much we are really watching the game," James said of the panel in comments made after the Lakers' 126-114 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday night.
"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. 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."
James last won the MVP following the 2012-13 season with the Miami Heat.
Antetokounmpo, who also won Defensive Player of the Year, joins legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James as the only two players to win multiple MVP awards by age 25. He and Abdul-Jabbar are only the Bucks to win the award at least twice. Abdul-Jabbar was named MVP three times in the early 1970s in Milwaukee before he moved on to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Antetokounmpo is the third player to be named MVP and the top defensive player in the same season, joining Hall of Famers Michael Jordan (1987-88, Chicago Bulls) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94, Rockets).
Voting for the award was based on regular-season play through March 11, the night the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Through March 11, Antetokounmpo averaged 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 57 games. James, 35, was averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and a league-best 10.6 assists at the time, and his Lakers had the top record in the Western Conference.
In all, Antetokounmpo garnered 962 points while James received 753. Houston Rockets star James Harden, who won in 2017-18, finished third with 367 points. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (200 points) and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (168) rounded out the top five in the balloting.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (2014-15, 2015-16) was the most recent player to win back-to-back MVP awards.
(Field Level Media)