LeBron James loves telling the story about his first MVP award.
In his first season of organised basketball, he was the best player on an undefeated team, but everyone on the roster got an MVP trophy from Frank Walker Sr, the coach.
"Right then and there, I knew that this is what I wanted to do," James said.
James will be winning the award for the third time in four seasons.
Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone have won at least that many MVP trophies.
Abdul-Jabbar won six times, Jordan and Russell five times each, Chamberlain four times.
After this weekend, they will be the only players with more than James.
"I think LeBron is an MVP candidate every year," Doc Rivers, the Boston Celtics coach, said last month. "It's just who he is. He only does everything. So I don't know what more you can ask from him.
"LeBron, to me, is the favourite every year. The years he doesn't win it, it'll usually be because people are just tired of voting for him. Statistically, if you go all-around game, I don't know how you don't vote for him every year."
James said last week that while another MVP award "would be amazing and would be humbling," it is not what drives him.
In his ninth season, James still has not won an NBA title and it is clear that, although he wanted to reclaim the MVP trophy, winning a championship is far and away his top basketball priority.
"I think he's probably as committed as he's ever been in his career," Erik Spoelstra, the Heat coach, said this week when asked to summarise James's season. "And he's always been committed ... We all respond to his energy on the court."
James averaged 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists - making him only the fourth player with those totals in at least two seasons, according to STATS LLC, joining Oscar Robertson (five times), John Havlicek (twice) and Bird (twice).
Add James's 53 per cent shooting and 1.9 steals per game into the mix, and the club gets even more exclusive. Only Jordan had a season with numbers exceeding what James did this season in those categories.
Last season's MVP was Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.
Many in the Heat organisation thought James should have won the award a year ago as well, when he dealt with constant fallout from "The Decision" to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent and sign with Miami, where he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh formed a "Big Three" that has been celebrated at home and reviled in just about every other NBA arena.
James has said he played more out of anger and to silence criticism than anything else last season. So this season, his mindset changed, with him trying to revert to old ways, first as a superstar-in-waiting at St Vincent-St Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, then during his seven seasons with the Cavaliers.
It apparently worked.
"I wanted to get back to who I was as a person," James said.
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