Miami Heat’s LeBron James races to top of league MVP list


LeBron James is entitled to his opinion.

To those saying he is playing the best basketball of his life, James begs to differ.

“Of my life? No,” James said. “Not in my life.”

James called his senior year of high school his peak year, but he’s putting together arguably the best season of his NBA career. His numbers clearly put him atop the short list of MVP candidates, with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant being the closest competitor.

“I think he’s the best player in basketball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

James is averaging 29.2 points, a career-high 8.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists. His 55 percent shooting from the field is the highest in his nine seasons. The numbers have him on pace for adding a third league MVP award to his trophy mantel. James won the honor in 2008 and 2009, but those came while playing on teams less talented.

Now, he is shining despite playing alongside All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“I think I’ve played some good basketball,” James said. “If you look at the numbers, you will say it is. I’ll let you guys [decide]. You guys [the media] break down the numbers more than I do. I’ll let you guys talk about it and write about it.”

James credits an improved comfort for his improved play. Last year, it was often noted how he struggled to mesh with his new surroundings. The chemistry issues that plagued the Heat are a thing of the past. He’s excelled despite Wade missing nine of the first 24 games because of injury.

It’s also helped the spotlight has lessened on the Heat after being the league’s most-scrutinized team a year ago.

“First of all, I’m more comfortable this year,” James said. “I’m back to playing basketball at the level I know how to play it at. I’m more happy and excited about this year than I was last year.”

Wade said James has taken his game to a different level this season. Among the reasons for the improvement is James’ shot selection and spending more time in the post. James has taken just 41 3-pointers this season.

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