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NBPA launches annual award program voted on by players

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NBA players to vote on 2015 Players Choice Awards (3:06)

Michael Smith and Jemele Hill react to the news that the National Basketball Players Association is launching its own awards, which will be voted on by the players. (3:06)

The National Basketball Players Association has launched its own annual awards that will be voted on by players.

The program, which will feature anonymous voting by the players, was announced in a memo from union executive director Michele Roberts this week.

"Guys are going to be able to recognize the guys they play against every night and what they do for their franchises," LeBron James, who recently was elected as vice president of the union, said Wednesday.

The players-only awards, which will include a Most Valuable Player honor, will be announced to union members at the annual meeting in Las Vegas in July. USA Today first reported the awards after obtaining Roberts' memo.

Since 1981, the NBA's official annual awards are voted on by a panel of media members selected by the league and have a wide-ranging sponsorship from Kia. Those votes are all made public by the league after being tabulated by the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Roberts implemented the new awards following several star players publicly calling for NBA players to have a say in high-profile awards.

"The players know each other inside and out," reigning MVP Kevin Durant said over All-Star Weekend. "The media isn't in the film room and goes for sexy names."

Stephen Curry, who is the favorite to win this year's MVP, later campaigned for players to have a portion of the vote in a national radio interview.

"This program was created at your request to recognize outstanding performance of your peers, on and off the court," Roberts wrote in the memo. "No one knows better than you what it takes to shine."

James, who has won four MVP Awards voted on by the media, said how the official voting is handled in the future should be discussed.

"It's a conversation we can have at a later date," James said. "The media has done a great job every single year picking the awards. But us players get to see the guys every single day, so it's a longer conversation."

James said that players can't vote for themselves for awards. But who would his vote be for MVP this year?

"Myself," James said.