dEDGE Post Scriptum
Number veinte cuatro, the Mamba, the assassin, the player opposing fans love to hate, bearer of three championship rings, the current and reigning MVP, and the ultimate go-to guy, Kobe will need to perform at peak performance in order to lead the Lakers to victory. Kobe has altered his game this season by not allowing himself to become the focal point on every possession. And with the Lakers loaded with offensive weapons at his disposal, it has been a relatively easy transition. He has empowered others to take big shots to gain the needed confidence. He has started games by deftly distributing the ball to get the team on track. He has set the stage for others to follow suit, taking on challenges whole-heartedly. And he has been a good leader, offering encouragement, providing the drive and fire, and exulting in his teammates successes.
But Kobe remains one of the most lethal juggernauts on the court. He has bailed us out, time after time when all else has failed. He accepts the most difficult defensive assignments with glee. He relishes in dire circumstances, confident that there is no way that he will be denied from winning the game, whether it’s by him scoring or passing to a wide-open teammate by drawing the double-team. Yet he is still measured up to the success of others around him. Lebron is more of a team player and makes those around him better. D-Wade is a more complete and unselfish player. Okay, both are tremendous players, superstar players for that matter, with unlimited potential. And both are worthy and deserving candidates for the league’s MVP. Lebron has led his Cleveland team to the best overall record, hoisting impressive numbers along the way. Wade has single-handedly carried the Miami Heat into the playoffs. His scoring barrages have been Kobe-esque. And the new mantra in the league appears to be give the award to the new guy.
Kobe Bryant is the most complete player in the NBA since Michael Jordan hung up his jersey. Jordan played on a different level than everyone else. He deserved the award every single year and should have gotten it served to him on a silver platter every single year. That he garnered the honor only 5 times amazes me. How Karl Malone or David Robinson ever managed to snare the MVP trophy away from MJ remains a mystery to me. No one could ever argue that he wasn’t worthy of the honor each season. And it was usually a foregone conclusion as to who should win. But then something happened in the NBA and they got all PC on us. The MVP trophy became the Stanley Cup, with everyone entitled to carry it for a year. If you can look me square in the face and tell me Steve Nash was the best player in the league, for two consecutive seasons, I have news for you. Get out of the desert heat, because your brain just became hard boiled. If you are convinced that Dirk Nowitzki beat out everyone else, I have more news for you. How’d they do in the first round of the playoffs that year?
Kobe Bryant has been the NBA’s most valuable asset for the past 5 years. Not Timmy, not KG, not Lebron, and certainly not Dirky-boy. On the biggest stage, Kobe is the star among stars. He shines brighter than all others blinding them with his sheer brilliance. And he remains the only individual who warrants a comparison to the indomitable Air Jordan. As a fan of the NBA, I can only hope that they too will finally realize what Kobe has done for the league. The others mentioned may be an MVP on their respective team or within their own conference, but the best player overall? That award should rest solely with the individual who can score more points in three quarters than an entire opposing team, to the bearer of the second highest scoring game in NBA history, and to the player who has been the face, the soul, and the hope of Los Angeles Lakers basketball for the past 12 seasons. Laker fans have long known who the real MVP should be. And it is about time everyone else noticed.
For an interesting “day in the life” of Kobe Bryant, check out this great article by Rick Reilly of ESPN: http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=4068270