On the final day of the regular season, the NBA scoring champion can finally be crowned.
With Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant battling it out for top honors this year, it was announced that the Lakers will not play Bryant tonight. His decision to sit means that Durant will take home the title of scoring champ once again. Bryant needed to score 38 points against the Kings in the regular season finale to pass Durant. Durant finishes the regular season with a scoring average of 28 points per contest.
At just 23 years old, Durant is the youngest player in NBA history to be a three-time scoring champ. Yeah, he's pretty good, isn't he?
Bryant made the decision to sit out and rest before the Lakers play in their first postseason game on Sunday afternoon. He spoke with ESPN Los Angeles about his decision:
"It's not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know? If that's the bench mark, that's all you need to do, that's not really hard to do that," Bryant told ESPNLosAngeles.com after beating his teammates in a raucous halfcourt shot competition at shootaround on Thursday. "The biggest thing, most important thing for me is setting the tone for our team. Our young guys have been very supportive for us all year and it's important for them to get out and perform as well, for us to be there to support them.
"The scoring title is not that important. We know I can do it. We know I can go out and score 38 points. The most important thing is sending the right message to the group, which is putting a championship above all else. That means rest. That means letting other guys play. That means us getting ready for Sunday (for the playoff opener)."
Laker fans should be pleased with Bryant's decision to sit this one out. While it would have been nice to see the 16-year veteran add another accolade to his resume, it's even more important to see that he has his eyes focused on a bigger prize. Imagine if Bryant had played, failed to score 38 points, or, even more unthinkable, been injured in a meaningless game for a scoring title that doesn't actually hold any weight at this point in his career.
He made the right call. His decision also shows his teammates once again that he cares more about their collective goal of winning another championship than he does about his own individual awards and statistics.