MILWAUKEE — LeBron James is not happy he finished second in voting for Defensive Player of Year behind Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies.
“It sucks,” James said on Thursday before Game 3 against the Bucks at Bradley Center. “It just sucks.”
James was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the first five months of the NBA’s six-month season and will likely be close to a unanimous selection for his fourth MVP Award in the last five seasons. He prides himself on defense just as much as offense, so finishing second isn’t something worth celebrating.
“It definitely sucks, finishing second,” James said. “Who wants to finish second?”
James has finished second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career. He was runner-up for the award in 2009. James averaged 8.0 rebounds per game this season, a career high. He had 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks per game.
When asked if this season was his best as defender, James said “probably” and then presented his case.
“I guard everybody on the floor,” James said. “I don’t if it’s one player in NBA history who guards one through five. So … it’s over with now, but that’s OK.”
There have been times this season when James has guarded opposing point guards and centers, though his primary defensive responsibility is normally guarding an opposing team’s small forward. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra calls James “One Through Five” for his ability to guard each position on the floor.