With his typical, awkward, high-school bravado, LeBron James accepted the NBA's MVP award Sunday. He was expected to win.
The news of the day: He was one vote shy of a unanimous win, which he blamed on a "writer out of New York," citing the Knicks' rivalry with him and the Heat as the reason. He could not know that, since voters' votes are kept secret, unless the voter decides to come forward.
James, of course, is nowhere near sophisticated enough to understand that such an accusation insults not only New York writers but all writers and broadcasters who vote on postseason honors. The reason writers are used is because of their assumed objectivity. And such an insult further ossifies the chilly relationship with him and the legion of professionals who cover him.
Neither is James humble enough to allow that, while his season will stand as one of the more remarkable in league history, other players might be equally valuable, if not moreso, depending on context and criteria.
Where would the Heat be without him versus other teams and their candidates? Where would he be without these specific players around him? What is the definition of "Most Valuable?"
Consider Tony Parker, who shot 52.2 percent from the field, an absurdly efficient rate for a point guard. Among the 22 players who took at least 15 shots per game, only one was more accurrate than Parker: LeBron James.
No point guard who shot as often was within 8 percent of Parker.
He also averaged 7.6 assists per game, just off his career high of 7.7 last season, when he finished fifth in MVP voting -- the first season his value eclipsed that of teammate Tim Duncan.
Injury and caution cost Parker 16 games this season, and the same issues cost Duncan 13 and x-factor forward Manu Ginobili 22.
Parker's team, the Spurs, still earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Where would they have been without Parker?
Certainly not within hailing distance of the first-place Thunder and Kevin Durant.
That Durant did not receive the other first-place vote was almost as alarming as LeBron not sweeping the polls.
Without Durant, the league's most potent offensive weapon, Oklahoma City becomes a team of plodders run by a Chris Tucker facsimile, Russell Westbrook. Durant's deference to Westbrook and his other teammates (as well as late-season self-preservation) cost him the scoring title, but there are more important things than MVPs and scoring titles.
Unless, of course, you are Carmelo Anthony.
Melo finished third, and received the other first-place vote, and won the scoring title.
That vote came from Gary Washburn, with the Boston Globe.
Melo also helped get his coach fired, laid in wait to accost Kevin Garnett after one game and, in several others, embellished his profile as a petulant, selfish player ... without whom the Knicks would not have won the Atlantic Division and earned the East's No. 2 seed.
That was Washburn's rationale, and, while it is debatable, it is valid.
But really, no player meant more to his team than Chris Paul.
He has eclipsed Deron Williams and Steve Nash as the league's most effective passer; Parker never was close.
Tasked with synthesizing a team rich in athletic ability but poor by comparison in skills, Paul's arrival in Los Angeles last season turned the Clippers into an elite team instead of a the Lakers' laughable co-tenant in the Staples Center.
He led the league in steals for the fifth time in six seasons. He scored about 3 fewer points per game than last season, but, as he incorporated teammates whom he helped develop, Paul took more than two fewer shots per game ... and still made a marvelous 48.1 percent of them.
His 9.7 assists led the league (excluding Rajon Rondo, who missed more than half the season).
In the competitive West, theClippers would not make the playoffs without Chris Paul.
The Heat, even without LeBron, might be the second best team in the East ...
Who, of course, deserved that fourth MVP.
But he was not the only one deserving.