AKRON, Ohio—AKRON, Ohio -- Unstoppable at both ends of the floor this season, LeBron James claimed the league MVP on Monday, receiving the award in the high school gym where he first emerged on the national scene.
"This is a place where all my dreams started and where I thought they could become real," James said in accepting the award at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. "There's really not a better place."
The Cleveland Cavaliers star won what some expected to be a close vote in a slam dunk. He received 109 of a possible 121 first-place votes to easily outdistance Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. James totaled 1,172 points in balloting by media members in the U.S. and Canada.
Bryant, last year's winner, got two first-place votes and finished with 698 points. Miami guard Dwyane Wade was third with 680 points and was named first on seven ballots. Orlando center Dwight Howard (328) was fourth followed by New Orleans guard Chris Paul (192).
James is the first Cavaliers player to win the award. He averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists this season, his sixth as a pro. He also finished second in voting for defensive player of the year, making him perhaps the league's most dominant two-way player since Michael Jordan.
"You look at the guys who have won this award -- Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dr. J, Oscar Robertson," James said. "All these guys laid down the path for guys like myself and Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade to name a few."
James credited his teammates, who along with coach Mike Brown were present to see him accept the award, for raising their games in the Cavaliers' best season ever.
"Individual accolades come when team success happens," James said. "You look at those 14 guys over there, I got the award because of them. They put in the work."
At 24 years, 106 days on the final day of the regular season, James is the youngest player to win the award since Moses Malone (24 years, 16 days) in 1978-79. Wes Unseld was 23 when he won it in 1968-69.
"I'm 24 years old. To be up here and win this MVP award, I never thought it would happen this fast. I always dreamed about celebrating championships with teammates," James said.
"It takes a lot of sweat," said Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry. "I'm sure he did a lot of sweating right here. I've been fortunate enough to watch him sweat the past four years when no one else was around. I just want to acknowledge that and give it a round of applause."
James vied all season for MVP honors with Bryant and Wade. The three played on the U.S. gold medalist Olympic team last summer and seemed to upstage each other nightly.