LeBron James was misunderstood when reacting to Steph Curry’s second straight NBA MVP Award. So James did a very LeBron James thing: he straightened it out saying: “Steph was definitely the MVP of our league and is the MVP in our league and is a great basketball player.” When the Cavaliers got dunked 110-77 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, James — despite the fact that his teammates barely showed up — said “I’ve got to be better.” With James down 0-2 and looking as if he may go 2-5 for his career in NBA Finals, it’s a good time to acknowledge this: LeBron James may or may not be the MVP of the league this year, but he is the NBA’s Most Admirable Player.
This accolade is not meant in terms of charitable giving (unless you count his continuing to pass to J.R. Smith) or any of the other normal “good guy” benchmarks. It’s meant in terms of pure basketball behavior. James rarely complains. He carries a huge load every night and still plays team-first basketball. Nobody plays consistently harder defense, especially when you consider his offensive responsibilities. James pretty much does every game what every kid is coached to do: he tries his absolute best, he never pouts (even though others’ failures must be hard for him to comprehend) and he takes responsibility. In a superstar era where many get a pass, LeBron James carries himself on the court with a great deal of honor — the glory that attends him personally is just a byproduct of playing the right way. Here’s a fact that basketball insiders know: nobody but nobody appreciates the way the Golden State Warriors are playing right now more than LeBron James does. He just can’t say it. He’s too busy trying to break it.