"Not saying that the winner wasn't deserving of the MVP, but that pissed me off," he said after the Lakers' Game 1 win over the Denver Nuggets Friday, courtesy of The Washington Post's Ben Golliver. "I finished second a lot in my career, either from a championship (and) now four times as the MVP. Like I said, I never came into this league saying 'Let me be MVP or be a champion.'
"I just want to get better and better every single day and those things will take care of itself. But some things (are) just out of my hands and some things you can't control. But it pissed me off."
The NBA's annual awards are voted on by a panel of 100 media members plus one additional fan vote.
James received just 16 first-place votes for a total of 753 points. Antetokounmpo tallied 962 points thanks to 85 first-place selections. They were the only two players to receive first-place votes.
The Lakers superstar questioned the undefined criteria for the MVP and other major awards. James referenced Marc Gasol's Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2012-13 as evidence of the flawed system. The Spaniard failed to make the All-Defensive first team that season despite being named the top defensive player, beating out James who finished second.
"I don't know how much we are really watching the game," James said of the voters, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
James added, "I'm not going to sit up here and talk about what the criteria should be or what it is. It's changed over the years since I've gotten into the league. Sometimes it's the best player on the best team. Sometimes it's the guy with the best season statistically. ... You don't know. But you know, Giannis had a hell of a season; I can definitely say that."
Playing in his 17th season, James averaged 25.3 points and 7.8 rebounds and led the league with a career-high 10.2 assists per game during the regular season through March 11. However, Antetokounmpo won the honor for the second straight season and put up astounding numbers of his own, registering 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per contest while leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the best regular-season record this year at 53-12.
After speaking to media Friday, James took to Twitter to again express his displeasure with the lack of votes he received.