NBA MVP Chase Has Become a Three-Horse Race

Charles PennContributor IMarch 10, 2009

During the first half of this year's NBA season, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were the clear front-runners for MVP discussion. LeBron James has led the Cavaliers to the second best record in the Eastern Conference and the best home record in the NBA. Their only loss at home was to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

After Kobe led the Lakers to sweeps over Boston and Cleveland, it seemed that he was on his way to a second straight MVP. Kobe is third in the NBA in scoring and the Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the NBA at 50-13.

After the All-Star break, another player has made a push to put his name in the discussion as well. He goes by the nickname of "Flash."

Dwyane Wade has been on a tear since the All-Star break, averaging over 35 ppg and nearly 11 assists. He leads the NBA in scoring with 29.4 ppg and has the Miami Heat at fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Wade made a statement tonight by hitting the game-winning shot for the Miami Heat in double overtime to beat the Chicago Bulls 130-127. His difficult three-point shot at the buzzer should be in the top five NBA plays of the year. Wade had 48 points, 12 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks in the winning effort.

In the previous overtime "Flash" was unable to hit the free throws or hit the reverse layup to seal the win. But in the end he made up for those mistakes and came through for this ball club.

Ever since the All-Star break—and the Raptors trade that sent Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon to the Heat for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks—Dwyane Wade has the Heat looking like a dangerous first-round opponent that you do not want to face in the playoffs.

As far as the MVP race is concerned, it will be a lot closer than last year.

Kobe Bryant is still the front-runner at the end of the day because it is hard to replace the fact he helped the Lakers sweep the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

His defining moment of the year is when he led the Lakers to a huge win on the road against the Cavaliers. Kobe hit a fadeaway dagger over LeBron James with the shot clock winding down late in the game to seal the win for LA and make Cleveland suffer their only loss at home so far this season.

The Lakers are currently in a losing funk right now, but Kobe Bryant should earn his second straight regular season MVP at the end of this season.

The rest of the MVP voting: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Garnett.