Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, in his 12th NBA season, finally won his first Most Valuable Player award earlier Tuesday afternoon. But the question still remains: did he deserve it?
There is no doubting Bryant's immense talent - pound for pound, he's the best basketball player in the world. But does that make you an MVP?
This year, Bryant's Lakers were the best team in the Western Conference, earning the number one seed. He had plenty of help along the way, especially after the mid-season theft -- I mean trade -- of Pau Gasol from Memphis.
When was the last time a Kobe-led team dominated either a regular season or post season prior to 2008?
How about when Shaq-daddy was still roaming the Staples Center court?
Do you see the trend?
If Bryant is surrounded by superstar talent, the Lakers succeed at a high rate. If he's not -- they barely make the playoffs, if at all.
Now, this in and of itself does not exclude Bryant from being a MVP candidate. But it has to be at considered, especially when you have a guy like LeBron James single-handedly willing his team to victories night after night.
Or a guy like Chris Paul, my choice for NBA MVP.
Here is a guy who, as we speak, is running circles around Tony Parker and the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semis.
Paul has made stars out of players that were glorified role players before his arrival (i.e. David West and Tyson Chandler). He led his team in points per game during the regular season, while leading the NBA in assists (11.6 apg) and steals (2.71 spg).
Maybe the MVP is different to me than it is to those that vote on who should receive it.
Take Chris Paul off of the Hornets roster. Do you think they'd be the second seed, up 2-0 on San Antonio? Me neither.
But could you see the Lakers, with a healthy Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, competing for the Western Conference crown? I could see that far more than the Hornets being where they are without Paul.
That's how I define an MVP—the player most valuable to his team.
Not to discount Kobe or anything he's accomplished, but the top two players that deserve this award in my mind are Chris Paul and LeBron James.