LeBron James extends ridiculous streak thanks to one vote in 2021 NBA MVP balloting

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There are seemingly countless ways to measure the greatness of LeBron James, but here’s one you might not realize: He has now tallied at least one MVP vote in every one of his 18 NBA seasons. Yes, you read that correctly. Even way back in 2003-04, as a 19-year-old rookie, James was registering on the MVP radar. 

This is a testament to LeBron’s extraordinary talent, but also his durability. Not even one season has he suffered an injury that kept him out long enough to remove him from MVP consideration. It was close this season. James missed over 37 percent of the Lakers’ games, only suiting up four times over the season’s final seven weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain that was still clearly bothering him in the postseason. 

Still, as a footnote to Nikola Jokic’s runaway victory over Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry, James got one fifth-place vote to keep the streak going. 

Through the first half of the season, James was a legit candidate to win the award. For a minute, he likely was the leader on a lot of ballots. 

The way MVP voting works is as follows: 10 points for a first-place vote, seven for a second-place vote, five for a third-place vote, three for a fourth-place vote and one for a fifth-place vote. He who tallies the most points, wins. 

So when we say that LeBron has tallied at least one NBA vote every year he’s been in the league, that doesn’t mean he has gotten a first-place vote every year. It means he has registered points by receiving at least one top-five vote. 

This is ridiculous. A top-five MVP vote means you had an extraordinary season. It’s a career year for most guys, and even the best of the best fall out of the mix here and there. LeBron never does. At 36 years old, he’s still arguably one of the best players in the world. I know people will try to argue with that after he was less than stellar in the Lakers’ first-round loss, but I caution you to hold off on the superstar eulogy. 

Again, LeBron was playing at a legit MVP level for a good chunk of this season. That doesn’t just go away. He wasn’t healthy in the postseason. Anthony Davis wasn’t either. The Lakers squeaked in as a No. 7 seed on the heels of an exhausting run to the 2019-20 title in the NBA Bubble. The will just wasn’t quite there to re-climb the mountain so soon. 

But LeBron will be back. My money is on him extending this MVP-vote streak to 19 years next season. 

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