It is official. Number 24 in your programs, number one in your heart, Kobe Bryant is the NBA MVP. On May 6, Kobe became the fourth Los Angeles Laker to win the Most Valuable Player award. After 12 years in the NBA Kobe has won the award for the first time in his career.
The MVP is an award that is always up for debate. But after this season these are the top 10 reasons why Kobe deserves the award.
1. Played All 82 Games
For only the second time in his career, Kobe has played all 82 games in the season. He was injury free. Every other MVP candidate missed time with injuries, but not Kobe. The guy was a machine.
Jerry West, the guy whose image is used as the NBA Logo, is the only other Laker to average 28 points, five rebounds and six assists per game. Yes he did it three times and never won an MVP but that is still some exclusive company. Especially when you realize that Magic Johnson never did it.
Kobe is the best defensive guard in the game. Not only will he score 50 on you but he can also hold you to ten. He is incredible at shutting down his man in tight situations. He is not only the defensive stopper for the Lakers but that is also his role for the U.S. National Team. He is a seven-time NBA All-Defensive team selection and will probably add number eight this year.
4. 15 Game Turnaround
The Lakers won 15 more games this year than they did last year. When you put that up against the 42 win improvement by the Celtics this year it doesn’t seem that significant, but 42 wins is a record turnaround so you can’t compare those two records. What you can say is that the Western Conference this year was the most competitive conference in NBA history. The Golden State Warriors won 48 games and didn’t make the playoffs. If they were in the Eastern Conference they would have been the number four seed. Kobe didn’t just lead the team to 15 more wins; he led them to the best record in the West.
So far in the playoffs Kobe has been phenomenal. The Lakers are yet to lose a game, sweeping the Nuggets in four games and winning game one against Utah. Kobe has averaged 34.4 points 5.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game in the playoffs. Utah head coach Jerry Sloan admitted, “We can’t match up with Kobe Bryant.” And that was DURING game one. The job of the coach is to come up with a way to stop Kobe and he is saying to everyone at home watching the game that they can’t stop him; way to wave the white flag Jerry.
6. Sasha, Jordan, Andrew
The three guys that Kobe had scrutinized the most, heard the call, and really stepped up this year because Kobe demanded a better team. Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, and Andrew Bynum all averaged career highs in all major categories. Bynum could possibly have been in the running for most improved had it not been for a major knee injury that limited him to only 35 games this year.
7. He jumped over a moving Aston Martin
If you haven’t already seen it go on to youtube.com and search “Kobe Bryant jumps Aston Martin” and you will see one of the most incredible displays of athleticism possible. Is it real? Who cares, it’s still freaking amazing.
8. Big Games
Kobe has always been at his best during the big games. On Jan. 1 against Dallas, Kobe had 40 points, 10 boards and five assists. March 2 also against Dallas 52 points, 10 boards, four assists. March 30 against Washington 26 points, 13 assists, and four rebounds. But Kobe’s real MVP moment this year came at home against New Orleans on April 11 where he had 29 points, 10 rebounds, and eights assists. This was the game where all experts said that the winner of the game would win the MVP. Kobe beat Chris Paul and as a result the Lakers also took over first place in the division.
9. Against Playoff
Against teams in the playoffs this year Kobe averaged 28.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. Now those numbers aren’t that much different than his regular season numbers but it shows that he is consistent against even the best competition.
10. Teammate Love
This year more than ever Kobe has embraced his teammates. During his MVP acceptance speech Kobe gave a lot of credit to the team saying, “This is a team award. This isn’t an individual award. This gets done because of these guys [his teammates]. These are my brothers and we have one MVP.”
Kobe’s 12-year wait is tied with Karl Malone for the longest time in the league before winning his first award. Malone won the award in 1996-97 while playing with the Jazz.