NEW YORK, May 5 – Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James became the first player from his franchise to be named National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player on Monday.The 24-year-old scored 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists on average per game in what is his sixth season in the NBA.
"You look at the guys who have won this award – Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dr. J, Oscar Robertson," James said. "All these guys laid down the path for guys like myself and Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade to name a few."
James, nicknamed ‘King’, inspired Cleveland to the best regular season record (66 victories and 16 defeats) and finished second behind Orlando pivot Dwight Howard for best defender of the season.
James, who easily beat last year’s MVP Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, is the youngest player to win the MVP award since Moses Malone in 1979.
James received 109 first choice votes out of the 121 strong electorate (American and Canadian journalists who list them in order of preference from 1-5).
He received 1172 points, with Bryant on 698 and Wade 680.
Cleveland, who eliminated Detroit 4-1 in the opening round of the play-offs, play Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoffs on Tuesday.
James credited his teammates, who along with coach Mike Brown were present to see him accept the award, for raising their games in the Cavaliers’ best season ever.
"Individual accolades come when team success happens," James said. "You look at those 14 guys over there, I got the award because of them. They put in the work."
At 24 years, 106 days on the final day of the regular season, James is the youngest player to win the award since Malone won it at age 24 and 16 days in 1978-79. Wes Unseld was 23 when he won it in 1968-69.
"I’m 24 years old. To be up here and win this MVP award, I never thought it would happen this fast. I always dreamed about celebrating championships with teammates," James said.
Said Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry, "It takes a lot of sweat. I’m sure he did a lot of sweating right here.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to watch him sweat the past four years when no one else was around. I just want to acknowledge that and give it a round of applause."
Wade played with James on the gold medal winning American team at the Beijing Olympics. Bryant was also on that winning team.
"He deserved it," Wade said. "I said all year, I thought LeBron was the MVP of this league. He’s a guy who every year is going to be in that conversation. He showed it all year, especially with his team’s success."