NBA MVP: A Case for Kobe Bryant

Blake JensenContributor IApril 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks next to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a break from the game at Staples Center on January 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In the 2008-2009 NBA season, six or seven players have made themselves strong candidates for MVP recognition, and of that group, three have been determined the most likely to win the award.

They are LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, most of the buzz has been around LeBron James, and rightly so.

"King James" has had the best season the league has seen since His Airness put up 32, eight, and eight 20 full years ago.

But does that mean LeBron wins?

Probably, but I believe Kobe deserves a fair case made for him due to his amazing season.

The Case for Bryant to Win MVP

Kobe plays in a much tougher division than LeBron does.

As of Monday, April 13 (two days left in the regular season), the West has five teams with at least 50 wins, and the Mavs and Hornets are creeping up on 50. Plus, there are nine Western Conference teams with at least 44 wins.

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The East does have two 60-game winners, and the Magic are at 58 victories, but LeBron only has to play the Magic and Celtics three or four times times apiece.

And the rest of the division? Let's put it this way. If the Suns—who own the ninth spot in the West and have been eliminated from contention—were to play in the East, their record would buy them a fifth or even fourth seed.

Kobe has been playing with a torn ligament in his right (that'd be his shooting hand) pinky for the last year.

Yet despite the wear and tear from a deep playoff run last year and the Olympic gold-medal run this summer, Kobe has not had the time to have surgery. He also dislocated a different finger this year, yet has not missed any games.

Kobe has had to deal with another major injury to teammate Andrew Bynum.

Yes, this year he's had the help of Pau Gasol for the full campaign and a more consistent Lamar Odom, but to be without a seven-foot, powerful center, Kobe has really had to step up his game.  Which brings me to my next point...

Kobe and his gang have gone 4-2 against the Eastern Conference's top three teams.

Granted, they lost both games they played against the Magic, but they won more important games against Cleveland and Boston. Besides, they only lost their games to Orlando by a combined nine points, and only late drives by the Magic stole those contests from the Lakeshow.

They beat Boston by a combined 10: They had a decisive win on Christmas and stole a squeaker in Boston by one point in OT.

"Kobe and Ko." beat Cleveland by a combined 27. One was a laugher at the Staples Center (a 17-point trouncing), and the other was a definitive performance in Cleveland that L.A. took by 10. That was Cleveland's only loss at home this season.

Again, I would be perfectly content if LBJ won the MVP, but before the ballots are cast, I want to give people something to think about (even if fans can't vote).