The worst-kept secret among NBA award recipients will be formally revealed Sunday when Miami Heat star LeBron James is named Most Valuable Player for the fourth time, league sources confirmed Friday.
James has been voted MVP for the second straight season and for the fourth time in the past five years. He'll join Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain with at least four MVP awards.
The only suspense remaining is in the final tally and how far James has distanced himself in the voting from other candidates this season that include Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Heat are scheduling an awards presentation Sunday, and James will also be presented the MVP trophy by NBA commissioner David Stern at AmericanAirlines Arena at the start of their second-round series next week in Miami.
The Heat, who have been idle for a week, swept their first-round playoff series against Milwaukee and will face either Chicago or Brooklyn in the conference semifinals, starting Monday. The Bulls and Nets play Game 7 of their first-round series Saturday in Brooklyn.
In anticipating of the award, James has said for weeks that he would be honored to be mentioned alongside Jordan, Chamberlain, Jabbar and Russell in MVP recognition. But James said Friday that he's more focused on the playoffs and helping the Heat defend their title from last season.
"He's earned it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James after Friday's practice. "He's having an even more historic season than he's had the last two years. Most people probably didn't think he could go to a higher level after last season, yet he reinvented himself to show that he could. Our pinch-ourselves moment was when we signed him. But since we've had him, we don't take him for granted."
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