LeBron James comes up short for Defensive Player of Year
MIAMI — LeBron James one day might join Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win the NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
But it won’t be this season.
The Miami Heat star, who is all but certain next month to claim his fourth career MVP, finished second behind Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol in voting announced Wednesday for Defensive Player of the Year.
Gasol received 30 first-place votes and 212 total points from a 121-member media panel. James received 18 first-place votes and 149 total points.
Gasol, who averaged 7.8 rebounds (5.5 on the defensive end), didn’t have gaudy defensive stats. But he was one of six NBA players to average at least 1.5 blocks (1.74 for 12th in the NBA) and 1.0 steals (1.0) while playing a rugged game inside.
James averaged a career-high 8.0 rebounds (6.8 on the defensive end), 1.7 steals (12th in the NBA) and 0.88 blocks. He is continuing to gain a reputation for being able to shut down players inside and outside.
The only players to have won the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season were Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in 1987-88 and Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets in 1993-94. James will have to be satisfied this season for getting what is expected to be another MVP.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson