MIAMI — The only issue left is whether it is unanimous.
Miami Heat star LeBron James on Sunday will become the fifth player in NBA history to have won four or more MVPs, sources confirm. But it remains to be seen if he will become the first to be a unanimous selection.
James officially will be named MVP on Sunday at a press conference at AmericanAirlines Arena. He then will be honored by NBA commissioner David Stern before Monday’s Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal against either Chicago or Brooklyn.
James, 28, will join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan (five), Bill Russell (five) and Wilt Chamberlain (four) as the only players to have won four or more MVPs. He will be the youngest to claim a fourth, being about seven months younger than Abdul-Jabbar, who won his two weeks shy of his 29th birthday.
James also will join Russell, who won in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965, as the only players to be named NBA MVP in four out of five years. James won with Cleveland in 2009 and 2010 and with Miami last year.
“Any time I’m mentioned with the greatest players to play the game or people period, it is a wow factor because I grew up and studied those guys and watched those guys and a few of those guys were my inspiration growing up,’’ James said recently about the prospect of joining the above-named legends.
“I know where I’ve come from, a small city in Akron, Ohio, and what I’ve built over the years. And I would give a lot of credit like I always do to my teammates and coaches that I had before I got to the NBA and how that allows me to do things that I do on the floor.’’
No MVP ever has been a unanimous pick in the previous 57 years the award has been handed out. Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal came the closest in 2000, getting 120 of 121 possible first-place votes from a media panel. The only voter who didn’t go for him was Fred Hickman, then a CNN anchor and now the sports director at a New Orleans television station.
Heat forward Shane Battier recently had said that a voter from Oklahoma City might go for Thunder star Kevin Durant and deny James being a unanimous pick. However, sources told FOX Sports Florida earlier this week that all three Oklahoma City voters went for James, which could increase the chances of the forward being a unanimous pick.
There are 122 voters for the award, 90 being media who cover the 30 teams and the other 32 being national media. There also is one vote that comes from Internet fan balloting.
The closest James has came to being unanimous was in 2010, his final year in Cleveland. He received 116 of a possible 123 first-place votes.
James was a no-brainer for MVP after he averaged 26.8 points, a career-high 8.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists while leading the Heat to an NBA-best 66-16 mark. He also shot a career-high 56.5 percent, including a career-best 40.3 percent from 3-point range.