Thursday , Jan , 24 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Midseason MVP: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, or Chris Paul?

Without further adieu, your top four vote getters for MVP. The west is represented by Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, while the east is represented by Kevin Garnett and LeBron James. As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us in the comment box below with your pick for MVP …

Midseason MVP: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, or Chris Paul?My AM Take: Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked you, the HoopsVibe masses, to weigh-in with your early-season Eastern and Western Conference MVPs.

And you certainly responded, which is appreciated. I promised to pit the leading vote getters from each conference against each other, so readers could vote for a midseason MVP.

Without further adieu, your top four vote getters for MVP. The west is represented by Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, while the east is represented by Kevin Garnett and LeBron James.

As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us in the comment box below with your pick for MVP.

Candidate One: Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers.

  • Why: Less is more. A toned-down, mellower Bryant has helped L.A. to an impressive start. The most optimistic purple-and-gold fan would have considered this impossible in October. Remember, the vibe surrounding training camp?

Now comes the tricky part. With Bynum out, does he revert back to being a shot-first superstar or does he continue to trust his teammates and facilitate?

Candidate Two: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets.

  • Why: This year, Paul has emerged as a top point guard. The tiny table-setter has led the Hornets to a stellar record, while dropping 22 points and 11 dimes per night. Too bad nobody in New Orleans is there to watch.

Candidate Three: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics.

  • Why: Garnett’s your winner if you subscribe to the best player on the best team theory. The forward has been The Guy in Boston, dominating both ends of the floor. And the Celtics have been The Team in the NBA, sporting a league-best 33-7 record.

Garnett is also the feel-good candidate. After wasting away in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, he receives much goodwill and love throughout the NBA. His fan-favorite status could influence voters.

Candidate Four: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • Why: He’s back. And so is his team. After a slow start, LeBron James and the Cavaliers have started to resemble the squad that qualified for last season’s playoffs.

Of course, James is a stat-stuffing, triple-double machine, averaging 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists per game.

Winner: Bryant.

Why: Bryant’s individual numbers are brilliant. But forget statistics. Bryant takes our midseason MVP because he’s preserved under tough circumstances-even if he’s somewhat responsible for creating those circumstances.

Think back to last summer‘s drama. There was the cell phone tape. There was the interview with Stephen A Smith. After that there was the bizarre trade request while vacationing in Europe. Phil Jackson initiated more interventions than Lindsay Lohan’s family.

Driving these events was the Lakers’ underachieving ways and unnamed team sources publicly blaming Bryant for Shaquille O’Neal leaving. Talk about dysfunctional.

Bryant has blocked the negative ‘pub’ and been The Cog in L.A.’s turnaround. Unlike Garnett, the all-world guard doesn’t have two Hall of Fame teammates to lean on.

By posting individual numbers and trusting those around him, #24 has finally reached his true potential. So Bryant’s the winner of our midseason MVP.

Bryant, Paul, Garnett, or James? Who’s your midseason MVP? Vote in the comment box below.

The AM Take is Oly’s morning thoughts on the NBA, appearing Sunday through Friday on HoopsVibe.com. Errors can be attributed to the time and his need for another coffee. Click here to get his AM Take and subscribe to his blog.