LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (CBSLA/AP) — LeBron James makes history even when he loses.
The Lakers superstar came up short in the race for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, coming in second to Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose historic year earned him the award for a second consecutive season.
James got the other 15 first-place votes and finished second, and James Harden of the Houston Rockets finished third. James has been first, second or third in the MVP voting now 11 times in his career, becoming the only player in NBA history to do so.
Dallas’ Luka Doncic was fourth, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers was fifth and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis was sixth. Rounding out the top 12: Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, Miami’s Jimmy Butler and Boston’s Jayson Tatum.
While 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, some NBA analysts – including ESPN’s Skip Bayless – said they thought James was robbed.
LeBron James should've won MVP.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 18, 2020
“Michael Jordan, one of the best players who’s ever done it, if not the best,” Antetokounmpo said. “Hakeem, a guy that I look up to, he came from where I’m from, Nigeria, where I have roots. … Just being in the same sentence with them, that means a lot to me.”
Antetokounmpo — who was in his native Athens, Greece, with his family when the award was announced — received 85 votes from the 100-person panel of global sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league, plus the one additional vote granted by winning 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.”
(Copyright 2020 CBS Corp. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)