By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
The Los Angeles Lakers gained a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals Friday. Prior to Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, Giannis Antetokounmpo officially claimed 2019-20 MVP honors prompting head coach Frank Vogel to repeat his opinion that LeBron James deserved the accolade. Four-times MVP James himself reacted as well.
“It pissed me off. That’s my true answer,” admitted the three-times MVP, “Out of 101 votes I got 16 first-place votes. That’s what pissed me off more than anything.”
“Not saying the winner wasn’t deserving of the MVP,” he added, “I finished second a lot in my career, either for a championship and now four times as an MVP. I did not come into this league saying I want to be the MVP or the champion. I always say I want to get better every single day. Those things can take care of themselves. There are some things out of my hand, that I can’t control. But it pissed me off.”
“He’s our MVP”
Vogel, 47, disagreed as well. He admitted to being surprised before Game 1.
“You guys all know how I feel about it. To me, he’s the MVP of the league this year,” he said, “No disrespect to Giannis. Giannis had a great season. He’s a great player. What LeBron does for our team, to me, is unparalleled. To carry the threat of going for 40 at any point but leading the league in assists and quarterbacking our defense and driving our team to as many wins as we’ve had and our playoff success, to me he’s our MVP.”
His player averaged 25.3 points, 10.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per regular season contest. The outings earned him second place in the MVP voting with 753 points versus the 962 gathered by the Greek Freak.
“I understand how the voting goes and quite frankly our whole group and I’m sure LeBron would echo this is focused on something bigger than any individual accolades,” added Vogel, “They all want to be the best. So I think it’s important to them. But at the end of the day, the truly great ones really only care about championships. I don’t want to speak for LeBron, but my sense is that’s where his mind is; that the championship is the only real thing that matters.”
“I am absolutely great now”
Back to James’ post-game reaction, he described how much the voting process changed during his career and remembered other snubs including what forced him to completely adjust his view on the annual NBA awards.
“I am not going to sit here and talk about what the criteria should be or what it is. It’s changed over the years since I’ve got into the league, I know that” he claimed, “Sometimes it is the best player on the best team, sometimes it is the guy with the best season statistically, it’s changed over the course of my career. Giannis had a hell of a season, I can say that.”
His 15-point, 12-assist double-double paired with a monster performance by Anthony Davis got his side in a 1-0 lead versus the Denver Nuggets.
“Let’s not get it twisted, I am absolutely great now. We are up 1-0 in the Western final series,” he pointed out, “The voting scale is a little weird to me sometimes. If you take 2012-13, I had the chance to be the defensive player of the year and also MVP in the same season. That year Marc Gasol was rewarded defensive player of the year but made the second team on defense. That doesn’t make sense. That’s when I started looking at things a little differently.”
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