Kobe Bryant will be considered one of the 10 best players of all time when it's all said and done without question.
The only problem is that he runs the risk of being one of the few greats with only one MVP award in his trophy case. If Kobe wants to solve that problem before he decides to call it quits with the Lakers, here are five things he could do to earn that elusive second MVP award.
Kobe is a natural scorer, but his 43 percent shooting last year was low by his standards.
At 34, shots will be harder to come by, as his body will start to slow down. To sway MVP voters into thinking he's still one of the best, if not the best, Kobe should focus all his efforts on doing what he does best: scoring the rock.
He can do that if he lets Nash dictate the offense. All Kobe has to do is get open and knock down jumpers.
If he manages to post the same Kobe-like numbers on offense at 34, he'll have a good shot at winning his second MVP.
Another option would be to take the opposite approach as the last suggestion.
Kobe's biggest criticism is that he's too selfish. That was essentially the reason he was robbed of the MVP award in his legendary 2006 season.
To earn a few more MVP votes, Kobe should consider taking a page from his former rival and current teammate, Steve Nash. Passing the ball more often and scoring a lot less will help the Lakers. If Kobe can draw double teams like usual, he'll have two solid options in the paint and another terrific one outside the three-point line. It's a win-win.
Refocusing all of his efforts on play-making definitely wouldn't hurt. Kobe's been known to be a good passer when he wants to be. That's how he won his first MVP award in 2008.
Throughout his career, Kobe has been known for his tenacious defense, but the one trophy he has never won is NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
If he finds a way to play the kind of lock-down defense he's known for, and if he can do it on a consistent basis, Kobe can possibly earn two major awards this year. If he wins his first-ever DPOY award, it should convince the voters that Kobe is still the most complete player on both ends of the court.
This is one of the least likely scenarios, but it's always a possibility with Kobe.
Besides, Kobe has publicly stated that the DPOY trophy is the one individual award he would like to win before his career ends. If he manages to win both awards next season, he would be the third player to win an MVP and a DPOY in the same year.
The Lakers need to win an impossible number of games with Kobe at the helm for him to finally win his second MVP award. The award usually goes to the best player on the best team. As of right now, Kobe is still the alpha male on this current Lakers roster.
If the Lakers earn the top record in the league, the award will automatically go to Bryant.
Think about it: isn't that the reason Dirk stole the award in 2007?
Essentially, this would have to be Kobe's best season ever, but in all honesty, that's what it'll take.
The only way to dethrone LeBron James as the reigning MVP is to do what LeBron does and to do it better. Instead of focusing all of his energy on one specific area, as suggested earlier, the best way to win the MVP is to be as replete as possible and to win as many games as possible.
Aside from LeBron, Kobe is really the only player in the league who can do that.
Granted, he would have to average close to a triple-double for an entire season. It's unlikely because of his age, but it can be done.
He's done it before.
In 2003, Kobe averaged 30.0 PPG, 5.9 APG and 6.9 RPG.
Again, it's not likely, but this is Kobe we're talking about. Nothing is completely impossible for this guy. These will be the last years of Kobe's career. It would make sense for him to go out on a bang.