Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kobe Bryant: Most Valuable Player, Like It Or Not

Couple of things from last night.

I have to see the tape, but Kobe's stat line is pretty freaking redonkulous. 53% from the field is the kicker for me. Huge win for the Lakers, and I knew they'd win this one. I wish I'd done a post on it, because the same thought kept rattling around in my head on Thursday night and all day Friday.

"People are going to judge the MVP award on this one game, even though they said to ignore the Cavs-Lakers game. Only this is in Los Angeles, against a tired Hornets team. The Lakers will shoot more free throws, win the game, and everyone will decide Bryant is the MVP."

27-19 free throw advantage.

An absolutely SICK all around performance by the Bryant, on the glass, in the assists, defensively, everywhere.

Lakers win in Staples.

Like I said, the Lakers are one of those teams where when it's their turn to be good, everything that can go their way, does.

Do I still believe LeBron James has been a better player this year? Absolutely. I'm a stats guy. That happens. But I acknowledge that the pathetic dreck that Cavs' management has surrounded him with is going to sink his campaign. And that's fine, because, like everyone acknowledges, James is going to win about 4 of the damn things.

Do I still believe Paul has done more for his team, has put up an absolutely phenomenal year, and has helped his teammates more? Completely. He's been tremendous, a leader, led a team that everyone thought had b-level talent to a top three seed in one of the hardest years ever in the Western Conference. He's still got an outside shot at 20 points, 10 assists, 3 steals for the year, which if out of this world.

Do I believe that a voter voting for Kobe Bryant has made a correct decision?


I can't argue that Kobe doesn't deserve it, no matter what the other guys have done. You shouldn't vote for him because he hasn't won it yet, that argument isn't relevant to a discussion about the most valuable player for this individual regular season. It's the same reason you can't discount Chris Paul because he hasn't succeeded on the main stage. There's a reason we have Finals MVPs.

I would hope that Bryant's critics, when he wins, and he will win, trust me, will not say that there was no other choice. In the few weeks that remain in this season, I hope they won't make insulting claims about how any other choice for MVP is ridiculous. Those two other guys have bled just as much, have done more numbers wise, one may end up winning more games, and the other is cursed with a shortbus of offensive weapons. You can believe Bryant should win, but don't discount what level the other guys have risen to by dismissing their viable candidacy. I would be most happy with a split, but I know that won't happen. Even though there's a perception that the media hates Kobe, it's not true. That's why he's winning in the informal writer's poll, that's why the media spends so much time on him, that's why his face is everywhere. Fans don't like him. For whatever reason, a large majority of fans don't enjoy what he does. They can appreciate him as a player, but even when I've rooted against Tim Duncan, it didn't make me physically ill when he succeeded. (Note: It's things like this that make me realize that if someone ever offered me an MVP vote in the year 2025, I'd have to turn it down, unless I've changed a whole lot as a writer, which is possible.) The media doesn't hate Bryant. They love how divisive and interesting and dynamic he is. He's exciting, and that sells. It doesn't mean that Chris Paul and LeBron James have done anything less than him this season.

In a way, though, it'll be a relief. There won't be the constant cries that Kobe doesn't get the respect he deserves (Note: Yes there will.). It'll be a moment where everyone can just kind of accept that this was Bryant's time. And when he inevitably tops it with a championship, after shooting 800 free throws at Staples Center in the WCF and Finals, it'll bring the league all sorts of attention, which is good for everyone.

Like it or not, Kobe Bryant is going to win the Most Valuable Player award, and he will have earned it.

Add to Technorati Favorites