The NBA announced that LeBron James had won its Western Conference Player of the Month Award for games played in January. This is James’ first player of the month award since joining the Lakers, and he is the first player to earn the award for the franchise since the late Kobe Bryant did so in February 2013.
James previously won Eastern Conference Player of the Month 38 times.
Here’s more, courtesy of the Lakers’ press release:
James averaged 25.4 points (.504 FG%), 8.1 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 1.4 steals while leading the Lakers to a 10-4 record in January. In 13 games, the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer tallied 13 double-digit scoring outings, including 10 games with 20+ points and five 30-point contests. James recorded double-digit assists in eight games, including a career-high-tying 19 assists against the Orlando Magic, and finished the month with nine double-doubles, including three triple-doubles.
For the season, James is averaging 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, a career-high 10.7 assists and 1.3 steals in 34.8 minutes per game while helping lead the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week on January 5 and was named an All-Star Game starter for an NBA-record 16th time after leading all players in voting for the fourth consecutive season.
Other nominees for the award that James beat out include Devin Booker, Luka Dončić, Rudy Gobert, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and James’ Lakers teammate, Anthony Davis.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month. He and James were also the two highest NBA All-Star game vote-getters in the league, and will serve as captains in the game.
As caught by Bill Oram of the Athletic, James receiving an award no Laker has won since Bryant on 2/4 — right before the Lakers’ 24th home game of the season — feels incredibly symbolic. It’s also a deserved honor, even despite Damian Lillard’s fireworks to end the month.
The near triple-double James averaged last month was stellar, but beyond that, he’s helped guide the Lakers through one of the toughest weeks any NBA team has ever faced. Frank Vogel has called him a “tower of strength” for the team right now. He’s reportedly stepped up in team meetings to help everyone process their grief. It’s hard not to have extra respect for the way he’s showing true leadership in taking this franchise forward. Add in the great month he’s having on the court, and it’s easy to see why he deserved the nod this month.