Why LeBron James won't win Finals MVP if the Warriors win the title
It's been 47 years since the NBA Finals MVP award was given to a player on the losing team, and it's only happened once. Jerry West earned the honor back in 1969, after averaging 37.8 points during a seven-game series that his Lakers eventually lost to the Boston Celtics.
But through the first six games of this year's championship series between the Cavaliers and the Warriors, LeBron James has been so dominant that regardless of the outcome of Sunday's Game 7, it wouldn't seem to make sense to give the award to anyone else.
No matter how deserving James may be of the honor, however, he probably won't get it if the Warriors win the title.
First, let's review LeBron's case. After Cleveland fell behind 3-1 in the series, James put together two nearly flawless performances in consecutive contests to force a Game 7. Not only did he score 41 points in both Game 5 and Game 6, he's also stuffed the stat sheet to the point where he leads every other player in the series in every meaningful category.
In addition to LeBron's overall dominance, his case is helped by the fact that no one player on the Warriors has been consistently great in this series. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have only had brief flashes of brilliance, Draymond Green hurt his team badly by committing the foul that earned him the Game 5 suspension, and Andre Iguodala hasn't had nearly the same impact that he did when he himself won the Finals MVP award in 2015.
But even when taking all of that into consideration, there are just too many things that could happen in a Warriors Game 7 victory that would make it nearly impossible for LeBron to receive the award after coming away with the loss.
If Curry or Thompson score 30-plus points in a series-clinching win, or if anyone on the team makes one or more clutch shots down the stretch that clinch a second consecutive title, the award's final destination is an easy decision. If Green or Iguodala were able to somehow force James into a rough night by shutting him down defensively, they too would be strong candidates for the award — especially given what we've seen out of LeBron over these last two games.
There's also the very real part about the logistics of handing James this trophy, especially after he just lost a game that could have given the city of Cleveland its first ever NBA title. Where would this actually take place? In the tunnel outside the locker room? In the press conference area? Certainly not on the same podium where confetti is raining down and the Warriors are wildly celebrating with the 19,596 fans in attendance.
The NBA is an entertainment business first and foremost, and there couldn't possibly be a more awkward televised moment than to see the league try to present James the award after suffering such a crushing loss. LeBron wouldn't want it under these circumstances, and it wouldn't make sense for him to get it, now matter how much he may end up deserving it.
The league confirmed that a total of only 11 media members vote on who the Finals MVP will be, so it would only take a majority of six to decide that LeBron has been the best player in the series, even if the Cavaliers lose. But since the award hasn't gone to a player on the losing team in 47 years, it's fair to say that James receiving it after a Warriors win is a long shot, at best.