(Updated 5/6/2013) LeBron James doesn't know his ceiling. After winning his fourth MVP title, James, 28, has a chance to not only match, but exceed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record six MVP crowns.
On Sunday May 5, James was awarded the KIA Most Valuable Player of the Year Award for his exploits this season. The award is James' fourth in five seasons, a feat shared by NBA great Bill Russell. So where does James go from here and how many MVPs can he rack up before he calls it a career? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this question.
Riley: I have James topping out at eight MVPs. At 28, James has just entered the prime of his career, and all he’s accomplished so far isn’t anything compared to what’s coming. The next three to five years will really define his career and, with Dwyane Wade diminishing, James is set to crank up his dominance. We’re witnessing greatness and obtaining another four MVP titles—or even just exceeding Abdul-Jabbar’s six—is going to be a cakewalk.
Green: Winning four MVPs is definitely an accomplishment, but asking him to match six awards or more is a bit of a stretch. Yes, James is only 28, but he’s been in the league 10 years already. Between shouldering heavy loads in his Cleveland years and during the last two in Miami, asking him to play at an MVP-level for the next three seasons to exceed Abdul-Jabbar is a bit much, even for James.
Riley: Why is it too much? We’re talking about perhaps the greatest athlete to ever lace up a pair of shoes. There’s nothing that James can’t do and we have to remember that he’s entering his prime. His game isn’t just physical anymore. He’s a smarter player with a better jumpshot and better basketball IQ. He takes excellent shots, makes excellent passes and is an excellent rebounder, everything an NBA player would need to run off consecutive MVPs.
Green: The one thing you’re forgetting is that LeBron James isn't the only great player in the league, Riley. What about Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, etc. The NBA is buzzing with talent right now, and just handing not just one, but several MVPs to James and waving off everyone else is a huge mistake. It’s also disrespectful. His performance this postseason should make Curry a favorite to win MVP next year. The NBA rewards nice guys for great seasons and there’s not a nicer guy then Curry right now.
Riley: Correct, the NBA does reward nice guys but it also rewards its most marketable figures, and who's more marketable than James? If you’re the NBA, you have to have a player like James winning NBA titles and MVPs and market him heavily. Plus, he actually is the best player in the league, so I’m not simply waving off the other superstars, I'm just crediting the best playing right now.
Green: Four MVPs is impressive. Six is legendary and anything past that would be unequaled. I just think it’s going to be tough to overlook all the younger talent and hand James trophies year after year. Both Anthony and Durant had strong cases to be the MVP, and I see them coming back with even stronger performances next year. It would be a great accomplishment to see James pass Kareem, but considering the mileage on his legs and the other great players around the Association, I can’t see it happening.