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James, Nash share Sporting News MVP award

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James doesn't believe in second place.
In at least one MVP race, he tied for first.

James, who finished a distant runner-up to Steve Nash for NBA
Most Valuable Player, has been named the league's co-MVP along with
the Phoenix guard by the Sporting News, which has been giving out
the award since 1958.

The magazine sent a ballot to every team, instructing them to
have their coach, general manager, assistant GM or player personnel
director pick the league's top player for the 2005-06 season.

Of the 28 ballots cast, James and Nash each received eight
first-place votes. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dirk
Nowitzki got six apiece.

"We usually break the tie," said Stan McNeal, managing editor
of The Sporting News. "But this year it seemed like a tie was the
way to go because the voting was close."

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was pleased to hear that James was
selected by those closest to the game.

"That's fantastic," Brown said. "It's deserving and it says a
lot to be voted for by the guys you are facing in the league, and
by the guys who are trying to game plan for you on a daily basis."

In addition, Dallas' Avery Johnson was voted coach of the year;
New Orleans guard Chris Paul was selected as the top rookie and San
Antonio center Tim Duncan joined James, Nash, Nowitzki and Bryant
on the Sporting News first-team All-NBA selections.

Paul received 27 of 28-first place votes. Teams were not
permitted to vote for their own player.

Nash won the NBA's MVP award by a much larger margin than was
expected.

The Suns playmaker got 57 first-place votes and 924 points
overall from a panel of 125 sports writers and broadcasters in the
United States and Canada. James had 16 first-place votes and 688
points overall.

Nash averaged 18.8 points, 10.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds while
shooting 51 percent from the field and 92 percent from the foul
line for the Suns, who went 54-28 despite being without injured
star Amare Stoudemire and after trading Joe Johnson and Quentin
Richardson.

James averaged 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists -- only
the fourth player in history to reach those numbers -- during the
regular season while leading the Cavs to 50 wins and their first
playoff appearance since 1998.

James wasn't miffed at losing to Nash, but he didn't find any
satisfaction in being runner-up, either.

"I don't believe in second," he said. "I don't like second."

The magazine will formally announce the award winners on
Tuesday.