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Rockets Star on Big Award: 'It Means a Lot'

James Harden is the new NBA MVP
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 26, 2018 12:35 AM CDT
NBA player James Harden of the Houston Rockets accepts the most valuable player award as his mother, Monja Willis, looks on at the NBA Awards on Monday at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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(Newser) – Third time was the charm for James Harden. The Houston Rockets star was voted the NBA's most valuable player after twice being runner-up, beating out four-time winner LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans at the NBA Awards on Monday night. Harden joined Michael Jordan as the only players to average at least 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and 1.7 steals in a season, the AP reports. He led the league in scoring, 3-pointers, and 50-point games with four while helping the Rockets to an NBA-leading 65 wins. "The last four years have been like knocking on the door, knocking on the door. Now the moment is finally here," Harden said backstage. "Just every single year you try to come back and be better than you were the year before, and just to be holding that trophy finally, it means a lot."

James didn't attend the show in Santa Monica amid frenzied speculation about his future. He has until Friday to tell the Cleveland Cavaliers if he'll pick up his $35.6 million option for next season or opt for free agency. Harden, who's from Los Angeles, led his mother onto the stage before he accepted the trophy from Commissioner Adam Silver. "I'm not going to get emotional," he said. "She's my backbone in good times and bad times." Harden received a total of 965 points and 86 first-place votes. James finished second with 738 points and 15 first-place votes, while Davis was third with 445 points and no first-place votes. The Rockets had another winner in Daryl Morey, who was honored as executive of the year. In other awards, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers won rookie of the year. Click for a full list of winners.

(Read more James Harden stories.)

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