With just two months left in the regular season, LeBron James is the favorite to win the 2021 NBA MVP award. It’s an honor James hasn’t been given in eight years, despite being the league’s best player throughout that span.

James posted 37 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 116-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets Thursday night. Following another MVP-caliber performance, a few LA players weren’t shy about praising their teammate.

“The NBA MVP is a very political award,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said Thursday. “Bron should have been the MVP at least eight, nine, 10 times. Everybody knows that.”

James won the award four times in five years from 2009-2013. The 36-year-old has been the MVP runner-up four more times, including a season ago. James most recently finished behind Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won the award for a second straight year in 2020.

The playoffs proved that James, not Antetokounmpo, is still the top basketball player in the world. While Antetokounmpo’s Bucks were bounced in the second round of the postseason, James led the Lakers on a championship run and claimed his fourth NBA Finals MVP award.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook have won MVP awards during the last decade, but James remains on a level of his own.

“I mean you could give him the MVP every year if you really wanted to,” Lakers guard Alex Caruso said. “He’s just that good, and he really is so valuable. I mean that’s why you see years past, when he’s on the court the net rating of the team is really, really good, and sometimes when he goes off it’s not so good.”

With James on the court this season, the Lakers are outscoring their opponents by 9.5 points per 100 possessions. In the minutes that James is on the bench, Los Angeles is actually being outscored by 1.5 points per 100 possessions.

The Lakers are the No. 2 seed in the West with a 28-13 record. Los Angeles trails the Utah Jazz by 1.5 games for the top spot in the conference.

James has carried the Lakers in Anthony Davis’ absence. The star power forward has missed games with various injuries, and he’s expected to miss several more weeks.

Winning another MVP award and leading the Lakers to a top seed would only add to James’ legacy as he continues to chase Michael Jordan in hopes of being considered the greatest player in NBA history.

“I should have more than four, I believe. But ... I don’t sit around thinking about it or crying about it, or whatever the case may be,” James said Thursday.

“I just try to come in the next season and be the MVP and be talked about it again. I bet a lot of the greatest that played this game feel like they should have more as well. If you ask anyone of those guys. This is another opportunity for me to able to be recognized as the best player for that particular season, and this season. So, hopefully, I can continue to just play great basketball and see what happens at the end.”

James is averaging 25.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.0 points through 40 games.

Lebron James #23 of Team LeBron reacts against Team Durant in the 70th NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena on March 07, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lebron James #23 of Team LeBron reacts against Team Durant in the 70th NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena on March 7, 2021, in Atlanta. Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox