Kobe Bryant knows something about MVP awards after capturing the 2007-08 league MVP and two NBA Finals MVPs during his illustrious Los Angeles Lakers career, and he gave the nod to Houston Rockets star James Harden over LeBron James and others when asked who his pick for the award was this season.
Bryant revealed his selection on ESPN's Get Up, saying, "I think what James has done from Game 1 all the way through Game 82 deserves to be rewarded."
James is looking to tie Michael Jordan with a fifth MVP, while Harden is searching for his first after narrowly missing out multiple times in the past. The Rockets playmaker finished in second place in voting last season behind Russell Westbrook, and second place in 2014-15 behind Stephen Curry.
In a March update, Stephen Campbell of OddsShark noted Harden was a massive MVP favorite at minus-290, while James was second at plus-275.
Bryant's nod to Harden is in part a testament to his team success, as the Rockets finished with the league's best record at 65-17. James' Cavaliers are the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference by comparison and went through some rough patches during the season with significant roster turnover and Kevin Love dealing with injuries.
Harden led the league with 30.4 points per game and was third at 8.8 assists a night, while James was third in scoring (27.5) and second in assists (9.1). James also led the league in total minutes and played all 82 games.
The MVP will be revealed June 25 during TNT's broadcast of the 2018 NBA Awards show.