LeBron James wins NBA MVP award for fourth time
Miami Heat guard collects all but one of the 121 first-placed ballots from media and fan poll
Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was a near-unanimous choice as the NBA's Most Valuable Player, earning the award for a second straight year and fourth time overall.
James' victory in the voting had been widely reported since last Friday, although when asked about it the player himself had urged reporters not to "jinx" him by jumping the gun.
He needn't have worried.
James garnered 120 first-place votes from a possible 121, which included a 120-member media panel and a fan poll conducted on NBA.com that counted for one vote.
"It is probably a writer out of New York that didn't give me the vote," James said. "I know the history between the Heat and the Knicks, so I get it."
James received a total of 1,207 points in the balloting, with Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant a distant second with 765 points and the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony third with 475 points and one first-place vote.
No player has ever been a unanimous winner. James matched Shaquille O'Neal - as a Los Angeles Laker in 2001 - in receiving all but one first-place vote. "He deserves it," teammate Ray Allen said. "What he's done for this team, we've come to expect so many things. He set the bar so high, but what he does is miraculous."
James joins legends Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell as MVP award winners at least four times in their careers.
"It is very humbling. I am just trying to leave my mark and impact," James said.
James' four MVP trophies have come in the span of five seasons, a feat only previously accomplished by Russell, who won in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965.
James also won in 2009, 2010 and 2012, with Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose interrupting his streak in 2011.
"King James" averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocked shots a game in 76 appearances this season, his 10th in the NBA.
He shot career bests of 56.5 per cent from the field and 40.6 per cent from three-point range and finished second in NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting to Spanish big man Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.
He led the Heat to most wins in team history at 66-16, including a 27-game winning streak that ranks second on the all-time NBA win streak list to the 33-game run by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
The MVP is yet another honour in an incredible 12 months for James.
In that span, James won last season's MVP award, the NBA Finals MVP award for leading the Heat over Oklahoma City for the title last June and an Olympic gold medal in August with the US squad of NBA stars at the London Games.
"We're all in unison, we think he's earned it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He's had an even more historic season than last year. The beauty of that ... is the fact probably most people didn't think he can go to a different level, a higher level, after last season. Then he reinvented himself and showed that he could."
The Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant rounded out the top five.
At 28, James is the youngest player in NBA history to win a fourth regular-season MVP award. Kareem was 30.