Thursday , Apr , 10 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Kobe Bryant Needs to Win the MVP Award

Kobe Bryant Needs to Win the MVP Award

This has to be the year.

Enough excuses about other players having better seasons, him being surrounded by a certain behemoth or other teams being flat out better.

Kobe Bryant is 29 years old. He’s been in the league for 12 years and for most of that time, he’s been the greatest player in the NBA. But for some reason, the three-time NBA champion has never won a single Most Valuable Player Award (All-Star Games don’t count).

That’s preposterous.

All those years he was one of the best players in the league on his way to a three-peat with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal was the dominant force. When he was averaging 25 and 30 points per game in the beginning of the 21st Century, Tim Duncan was winning championships. And when he lit up the Toronto Raptors for 81 points to highlight one of the best seasons in recent memory, Steve Nash was making his teammates better, and Kobe’s Lakers were simply not good enough.

You can’t deny him again.

If not for statistics or overall talent, than Kobe needs to win the MVP just because the best player in the league should have one already.

Think about the season he’s had. Let’s look beyond the fact that he’s averaging 28.7 points, 5.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds on a team that’s 53-25. How about the fact that on top of putting up these monster offensive numbers, Kobe will guard the opposing team’s best offensive player every single night. Do you have any idea how draining that is? Not to mention having to go back on the other end of the floor and face constant double and triple teams.

The excuse for not giving Kobe the MVP his first few years was because he played alongside Shaq. Fine. Then it was the fact that his team wasn’t good enough. That’s OK. But now, all the stars are aligned. His team is one of the best in the NBA and a legitimate championship contender (if not the favorite).

But he’s surrounded by great players.

Hold it just a minute. Except for Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher, this is the same team that was considered “not good enough” for Kobe to be MVP worthy. Fisher is a role player on that team, and Gasol has only played 23 games for the Lakers.

Let’s rewind back to November. Way before this team got Gasol. You know, when Kobe’s supporting cast was considered a barrel of scrubs. So much so that Kobe was dying to get out of Los Angeles. Well, before the Lakers acquired Gasol on Feb. 3, Bryant had his team at 30-15. And with Gasol being in-and-out of the lineup in recent weeks, and Bynum having missed 43 games and counting, Kobe still has his Lakers right on top of the talent-cluttered West.

Yes, Chris Paul has exploded onto the scene and accomplished things as a 23-year-old point guard we never thought were possible – scoring, distributing and (oh, yes) playing defense. Thanks to him, the New Orleans Hornets have shocked everybody and now hold a two-game lead on top of perhaps the most competitive Western Conference ever.

Kevin Garnett has recaptured the fire we knew he had and has led the Boston Celtics from last to first in one season. Now that he’s on a national stage and out of the slums of Minnesota, the world is getting a chance to see just how good he really is.

And LeBron James is continuing to set new heights in the sport with his athletic ability. No matter how bad the supporting cast on his Cleveland Cavaliers might be, James’ presence at least leaves the chance of a title.

But Paul needs to wait his turn (like Kobe did), Garnett is surrounded by two future Hall of Famers still in their prime, and LeBron’s team probably won’t be a factor in the playoffs.

It’s time to give it to Kobe. He’s the greatest, smartest, most polished player in the NBA. He has three rings. He’s kept a team that’s been injured and hasn’t had a chance to mesh on top of perhaps the most difficult conference ever. And he dominates on both ends of the floor.

If that’s not MVP worthy, I don’t know what is.