For the first time in his two-decadeslong career, LeBron James didn’t receive an MVP vote.
Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid was named the NBA MVP on Tuesday night, edging out two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for the league’s most coveted award. Embiid ran away with the award, too, earning 73 first-place votes, while Jokić and Antetokounmpo picked up 15 and 12, respectively.
James, however, was left off the list completely. For the first time in his 20 seasons in the league, the Los Angeles Lakers star didn’t earn a single vote.
Of the 100 people who filled out a ballot for the award, it wasn't out of the question that James could snag at least one vote. Both Knicks guard Jalen Brunson and Grizzlies star Ja Morant received a single fifth-place vote, and Kings star De’Aaron Fox received two.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) May 2, 2023
In James’ inaugural season, when he won the Rookie of the Year award, he finished ninth in the MVP voting. He then won the award four times, most recently in 2013.
James was never actually going to win the MVP award this season. He averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game in the regular season and got the Lakers back into the playoffs. While that’s impressive, especially considering he’s 38 years old, both Embiid and Antetokounmpo crushed him in scoring average and Jokić was just 0.2 assists shy of averaging a triple-double on the season. The finalists were simply much better than James. And James only played in 55 games this season, which is the second-lowest output in his career.
Still, the fact that James remained in the MVP conversation for this long is incredibly impressive.