Kobe Bryant Finishes Fifth in MVP Voting

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2013

March 25, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) shoots against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After a grueling, turbulent and dramatic 2012-13 season, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant came in fifth in the NBA MVP voting.

According to the NBA's official release, the Black Mamba finished behind Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Kobe earned the most fifth-place votes (27) of all candidates, and he also garnered 23 fourth-place votes, 12 third-place votes and four second-place votes.

In a year when the Lakers needed him more than ever, the 34-year-old veteran notched 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from the field.

Multiple injuries to Steve Nash forced him to facilitate more than usual, and his six assists per night matches a career-high set in 2004-05.

Throughout his career, Bryant has been labelled as a do-it-myself scorer, but he made a concerted effort to share the wealth and get Dwight Howard involved this season. Kobe had 11 games of double-digit assists and 23 games of at least eight assists.

Although it's tough to make a case against the four stars who finished ahead of him, this wasn't your typical fifth-place MVP season.

Los Angeles required monumental production from Bryant, as the club endured a coaching change and injuries to Howard, Nash and Pau Gasol. Bryant was up to the task, as he led the Lakers from sub-.500 misery to playoff contention.

He was more than willing to take on whatever role the team needed him to fill on a given night, and the result was an exciting mix of scoring and facilitating.

Even though he engineered a significant uptick in assists, he did score in bunches when necessary, including 15 games of 35-plus points.

Bryant finished third in the league in both scoring and usage percentage (31.7 percent). During the team's final playoff push in April, he averaged more than 45 minutes per night.

While LeBron James and Kevin Durant deserve recognition for leading their teams to the top of their respective conferences, Kobe deserves a unique measure of praise for how he overcame adversity.

He had to guide the team through the transition from Mike Brown to Mike D'Antoni, constantly re-focus Howard and make up for the production lost during Gasol's absence.

LeBron, Durant, 'Melo and CP3 didn't have to deal with that nonsense.

Before the season began, many wondered whether this was still Kobe's team. Was it now the era of Dwight?

Bryant answered those questions as convincingly as possible, as he turned out to be one of the most important players on his own team, much less in the entire league. 

Rupturing his Achilles on April 12th was a bitter way to end the campaign. L.A. was subsequently embarrassed in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs, which proved all the more how valuable Kobe was to the 2012-13 Lakers.