MIAMI (AP) — There has never been a unanimous MVP in the history of the NBA. Not Wilt Chamberlain, not Bill Russell, not Shaquille O’Neal, not Michael Jordan.
LeBron James might soon change that.
At least, the Miami Heat believe he should.
After finally winning that first NBA title last June, James was better than ever in his first year as a champion. He led the league in field goals, despite being seventh in shots attempted. He established career-bests in shooting percentage, 3-point percentage, rebounds per game and double-doubles — and did it all while taking fewer shots per game than at any point in his 10-year career.
So those are just a few of the many reasons why the Heat are overwhelming favorites to win it all once again in these playoffs, which open this weekend. Miami will meet Milwaukee in a first-round series starting Sunday night.
“Numbers aren’t why I play this game of basketball,” James said. “Numbers have never been why I play the game. That’s not how I was taught to play the game.”
James has said he plays for only one thing — titles.
“He came off one of the more historical MVP seasons with a championship. Most people, the human condition would have been to relax and say, ‘OK, that’s the pinnacle,’” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But instead, he wanted to push and find another barrier. And that’s why we don’t want to, he doesn’t want to, put a ceiling on how far he can go. ... He’s a player that could conceivably continue to get better.”
James shot 56.5 percent this season and made 103 3-pointers — no one in league history has ever shot so well and made so many shots in a season from beyond the arc. In the metric known as PAR, that being an acronym for points, assists and rebounds per game, James led the league by for the fifth time in six seasons. He led the league in field goals, but was only seventh in shots attempted. He could have missed 348 more shots and still finished with a better shooting percentage than scoring champion Carmelo Anthony.