Houston Rockets guard James Harden claimed his first Kia Most Valuable Player award on Monday at the NBA Awards. In the MVP voting totals released by the NBA, Harden received 86 first-place votes and 965 total points to LeBron James' 15 first-place votes and 738 total points, respectively.
In the eyes of James' former teammate and current Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving, James deserved MVP recognition of some kind. Irving spoke with Hot 97 in New York on Wednesday and said while Harden is "the people's MVP", James is "the NBA's MVP."
Ryne Nelson of SLAM.com has a partial transcript of Irving's comments to the station:
Do you like that James Harden got the MVP?
Kyrie: “I was happy for him.”
Do you agree?
Kyrie: “I didn’t vote. I didn’t vote. I think MVP is hard to gauge nowadays because now you have the people’s MVP and the NBA’s MVP.
“I think the people’s MVP was definitely James, but the NBA MVP was definitely Bron.”
So you think LeBron should have gotten the MVP.
Kyrie: “I mean, if we’re talking strictly based off stats, he checks every mark.”
It’s him every year, though, in that regard. Does anyone do more for a team than LeBron does?
Kyrie: [Shakes head] “I don’t know. He’s incredible.”
Harden led the NBA in scoring in 2017-18, averaging 30.4 points per game, and led the Rockets to a franchise-record 65 wins. He became the first Rockets player to garner MVP honors since Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993-94.
James has won the MVP four times in his career -- in 2009, '10, '12 and '13 -- and finished third in the league in scoring (27.5 ppg) last season. He posted career highs in assists per game (9.1) and rebounds per game (8.6) while playing in all 82 games for the first time in his career.
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