James, Nash share Sporting News MVP award

Updated: May 12, 2006, 7:19 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James doesn't believe in second place. In at least one MVP race, he tied for first.

James, who finished a distant runner-up to Steve Nash for NBA Most Valuable Player, has been named the league's co-MVP along with the Phoenix guard by the Sporting News, which has been giving out the award since 1958.

The magazine sent a ballot to every team, instructing them to have their coach, general manager, assistant GM or player personnel director pick the league's top player for the 2005-06 season.

Of the 28 ballots cast, James and Nash each received eight first-place votes. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki got six apiece.

"We usually break the tie," said Stan McNeal, managing editor of The Sporting News. "But this year it seemed like a tie was the way to go because the voting was close."

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was pleased to hear that James was selected by those closest to the game.

"That's fantastic," Brown said. "It's deserving and it says a lot to be voted for by the guys you are facing in the league, and by the guys who are trying to game plan for you on a daily basis."

In addition, Dallas' Avery Johnson was voted coach of the year; New Orleans guard Chris Paul was selected as the top rookie and San Antonio center Tim Duncan joined James, Nash, Nowitzki and Bryant on the Sporting News first-team All-NBA selections.

Paul received 27 of 28-first place votes. Teams were not permitted to vote for their own player.

Nash won the NBA's MVP award by a much larger margin than was expected.

The Suns playmaker got 57 first-place votes and 924 points overall from a panel of 125 sports writers and broadcasters in the United States and Canada. James had 16 first-place votes and 688 points overall.

Nash averaged 18.8 points, 10.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds while shooting 51 percent from the field and 92 percent from the foul line for the Suns, who went 54-28 despite being without injured star Amare Stoudemire and after trading Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson.

James averaged 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists -- only the fourth player in history to reach those numbers -- during the regular season while leading the Cavs to 50 wins and their first playoff appearance since 1998.

James wasn't miffed at losing to Nash, but he didn't find any satisfaction in being runner-up, either.

"I don't believe in second," he said. "I don't like second."

The magazine will formally announce the award winners on Tuesday.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press