That didn’t take long.
In basically a blink of an eye, LeBron James just coughed up the NBA MVP award.
Worse, it will be impossible for him to win it back.
Clearly, the frontrunners now for the coveted award have to be Brooklyn’s James Harden and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.
James’ Lakers currently stink to the high heavens. They have lost four in a row and five of six. And it can get worse with three of their next four games before the All-Star break against good teams.
We get it that the Lakers are shorthanded with Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder both out with injuries.
Still, this is when an MVP shows his worth, rising to the occasion to steady the ship until the reinforcements return.
Instead, LeBron’s Lakers look like the Titanic.
The perfect example is Harden, whose Nets recently went 5-0 on a West Coast swing without their best player, Kevin Durant, in the final four games.
Before Davis got injured, James was definitely in the lead in the early MVP buzz. The Lakers were winning. AD wasn’t playing great. The narrative was all about James perhaps winning a turn-back-the-clock MVP in his 18th season, at age 36.
But then Davis was officially sidelined with a right-calf strain. In all, he’s expected to miss at least four weeks of action.
That was the opening for James to cement the idea that he’s still the best player in the league and worthy of the MVP.
Had the Lakers continued to win without Davis, not every game, but win games they were supposed to, it would have been an endorsement of James’ greatness.
But not only have the Lakers been losing, James’ play has suffered, too. In LeBron’s last nine games, he is shooting an abysmal 19 percent from three (12-for-61). The Lakers have failed to reach 100 points in three of their last four games and have the second-worst offensive rating in the NBA since AD’s injury.
The optics are bad now for James. The Lakers look more like the team that didn’t even make the playoffs in James’ first season in L.A.
Quite frankly, the Lakers need Davis more than oxygen.
Here’s the other optic that will kill James’ chance of winning the MVP in the second half:
When Davis gets back and the Lakers start winning again, all the talk will be about Davis. He will be painted as the hero riding in on the big white horse to save the day.
It won’t be about James at all.
Last year, James thought, somehow, he was robbed of the MVP. He really believed he was going to win it. He was in for a rude awakening when Giannis Antetokounmpo won by a landslide, and rightfully so.
Giannis had an even better season than the year before when he won the MVP. It only made sense that he would go back-to-back.
Yet, LeBron was embarrassed — Giannis got 85 first-place votes to just 16 for James — and tried to blame the media as if there was some kind of hate conspiracy. Nope. Giannis was better.
In fact, James wasn’t even the best player on his team. That distinction belonged to Davis, who led the Lakers in every major statistical category except assists. James topped that by feeding the ball to... Davis.
This year, you would have thought Davis would have come out of the gates with guns blazing. After all, winning a championship filled that hole on his resume. At this point in his career, playing with an aging star, he could have gone all out and played to win his first MVP.
Instead, Davis played uninspired basketball to start the season. The Lakers were winning. But it was clear that James was the driving force behind all the early season winning.
Before this significant injury to Davis, the Lakers were 5-1 without him. Last season, they were 17-6 in games he didn’t play.
But even the five wins this season aren’t as impressive when you realize they beat teams with a combined winning percentage of .339. Now, they can’t seem to beat anybody.
It all points to the fact that the Lakers just aren’t good without Davis. That’s why James can’t win the MVP.