As a person, it is hard to find a lot of good things to say about Kobe Bryant. The son of a professional basketball player in Europe and America, Bryant was born not only with superhuman skills, but also into a lifestyle most of us don’t dare even dream of.
The culmination of this lifestyle and upbringing was witnessed on a national stage when Bryant decided to commit adultery in Summit County while his wife was in L.A. caring for his newborn baby.
Alas, the NBA’s MVP award has nothing to do with off-the-court transgressions and everything to do with performance on the court. This is why, hands down, Kobe Bryant deserves the MVP award for the 2005-2006 season.
Thirty-five points, four assists and five rebounds per game is enough evidence to hand Bryant the trophy carte blanche, but even more impressive has been the guard’s ability to carry an otherwise mediocre team into the playoffs. Without Kobe, the Lakers are an early lottery selection in the draft. With Bryant, the team becomes worthy of a playoff spot, albeit a low one, ensuring a quick exit.
Another reasonable argument for Kobe for MVP would be the lack of other viable candidates. Lebron James has had arguably the best year of his brief NBA career and will no doubt retire with a shelf full of MVP trophies. But this season will be his first playoff experience, and that is where reputations are solidified. Lebron is still a year or two away from earning the top honors.
Some will argue for Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki as the MVP. All of the stats look good to support this until you remember that there is no “D” in European ball. Kobe meanwhile, while never being among the top echelon of defenders, has managed to post a respectable 1.82 steals per game this year.
Other candidates are hardly worth mentioning.
Kevin Garnett? Great players on awful teams should never win the MVP. What difference would it make if a lesser player were to take his place?
Steve Nash? Please. A great point guard who stole the award from Shaq last year and doesn’t deserve another donation.
Carmello Anthony? Like Lebron, his day will come, but until he has earned an all-star spot and taken his team past the first round of the playoffs, it will have to wait.
So we come back to Bryant, an awful person yet a great player. Kobe has obviously proven he is a winner when surrounded by talent.
On a substandard team like the current Lakers, he has at the minimum proven able to elevate those around him. In the end, Kobe will need to redefine himself as a person capable of strong relationships with his teammates if he is to ever earn another ring. If not, he may simply go down in history as one of the greatest individual players of our generation.
JP Eichmiller is the editor in chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org