Commentary

Varejao salutes LeBron's MVP honor

Originally Published: May 4, 2009
By Alfredo R. Berríos | ESPNdeportes.com

Editor's Note: The following is an English translation of the ESPNdeportes.com story

LeBron James has been an MVP to Anderson Varejao ever since the Brazilian forward arrived in Cleveland a little over five years ago, even though it wasn't until Monday that No. 23 of the Cavaliers was crowned as such.

According to the native of Santa Teresa, Brazil, teammate James is an MVP on and off the court.

"He has helped me a lot since I came to Cleveland for being such a good person that has received me so well. This is very important [for me]," said Varejao during a telephone conference with members of international media.

The other side of the Most Valuable Player was finally recognized Monday when the NBA named James as this season's MVP, beating the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Miami's Dwyane Wade.

Varejao also spoke of the newly crowned MVP as a quiet leader.

"He makes his teammates better because he pays a lot of attention during the game. Sometimes he's doubled up, sometimes he has three players on top of him. He sees what's going on in the game and makes incredible passes," Varejao said. "He makes his teammates better every season."

Varejao came to the Cavaliers on July 23, 2004 as part of a trade with the Orlando Magic, which chose him as the 30th pick of the NBA Draft. James had just signed the year before as a rookie out of high school.

"He's a great teammate and a great person," added Varejao.

Besides James, he credited Ben Wallace as the other teammate who helped him to understand his role within the organization while not losing any sleep over playing time.

"Ben Wallace has helped me a lot. He is a good person and knows a lot about the NBA. At times I was sad because I didn't play a lot in the beginning. He always talked to me and said: 'It's a long season and you will play'," said Varejao.

Come Tuesday, Cleveland will start the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs when the Cavs face the Atlanta Hawks, which took care of the Heat in the first round. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, swept the Detroit Pistons in four games.

Although they have been tapped by many as the favorites in their conference, Varejao insists that the team prefers not to take anything for granted and approach the series with a day-by-day mentality.

"We have been resting for a week and that has helped us prepare. I think we are ready to fight for the title. We have to be focused to play games day-by-day," said Varejao. "We know we have a great chance to reach the Finals."

Varejao is part of an impressive front line that includes Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Joe Smith, Wallace, James and himself, but he doesn't want to define it as the most impressive of the postseason.

"We have three or four guys that know how to play, that have been on this league for a while. I don't think we have an advantage, but we will fight [with the best of them]," said Varejao.

The Cavs had the best record in the NBA this season, improving in the offensive and defensive aspects of the game when compared to last year's performance. Varejao said the collective improvement is the result of a combination of factors and not due to any specific changes made by coach of the year Mike Brown at any level.

"I believe it's a little of everything. Mo Williams is a great shooter. We have changed some of our offensive plays and we have another year [of experience] under our belts," said Varejao.

Once the season is over, the 27-year-old looks forward to playing with fellow Brazilians Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns) and Nene (Denver Nuggets) as part of their national team in the FIBA Americas Men's World Basketball Qualifying tournament in Mexico this August.

"I always want to play for Brazil and I expect to play in Mexico in this tournament," concluded Varejao.