Kobe Bryant: Why There Is Only 1 MVP Award That Really Matters

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IMarch 31, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket in the last minute on way to an 84-80 win over the  Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center on March 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

ESPN NBA analyst Tim Legler was recently discussing the Los Angeles Lakers' 15-1 record since the All-Star break on SportsCenter, and his conversation eventually shifted to the reasons for the Lakers' success since that point.

Legler mentioned the improved play of Andrew Bynum, and the manner in which forward Ron Artest has asserted himself, but he finally settled on the play of star guard Kobe Bryant as the major reason the Lakers have looked like the NBA's top team in recent weeks.

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's name has already been etched on the league's MVP award as Legler noted, but he also made the observation that Bryant was just as worthy a candidate as Rose.

If that sounds familiar, it's probably because Bryant has finished nearly every season in the past decade as a finalist for the MVP award, but he has only managed to capture the trophy once.

Legler thinks it's just a case of voter fatigue, or in other words, the people who make the decision are so used to Bryant performing at a high level that he is overlooked when it comes time to name the league's MVP.

As Legler said, how else can you explain Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal owning a total of nine NBA championships between them and only two combined MVP awards, while a player like Steve Nash has two alone?

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

LeBron James may have been an exception the past two seasons, but rarely is the NBA's best player awarded the MVP trophy, and there is no clear criteria as to how the voters make their selections.

So fans are usually treated to an over-blown popularity contest that rewards the best player from the team that has exceeded most people's expectations.

That description fits Rose because few people predicted that the Bulls would be the Eastern Conference's top team at this point, and Rose justly deserves the credit for carrying Chicago to the top of the standings.

That still doesn't change the fact that the MVP award is rooted in subjectivity, and when it comes to a matter of opinions, Bryant consistently finds himself in a battle he can never win.

Bryant's polarizing nature is not lost on the media members who hold MVP voting power, and unless he averages 35 points for a season, he has likely won the only regular season MVP award he ever will.

I guess it's a good thing Bryant's focus is on the other MVP award, the one that really matters.

The Lakers will attempt to win their third consecutive championship this June, and as a side note, Bryant will also be chasing his third straight NBA Finals MVP award.

The Finals MVP award is the league's most coveted because it is usually awarded to the best player from the team that wins the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Each regular season game is only a stepping stone to the playoffs, where a team's true goal can potentially be realized in the NBA Finals.

Ironically, when Bryant did win his only MVP award in 2008, the Lakers lost in the Finals to the Boston Celtics and Paul Pierce was named the 2008 Finals MVP.

Does that mean Pierce was a better player than Bryant? No, but Pierce was better when it mattered the most.

I'm sure Bryant was appreciative of the fact that media members had finally recognized him as the league's MVP, but I'm also sure he would have given that trophy back if he could have won the Finals MVP.

For the record, I also feel there are at least three candidates who are more worthy of the league's MVP award than Bryant, and Rose happens to be one of those players.

But as Bryant recently said on ESPN's PTI, the last two MVP awards he has won more than dim the pain from the ones he has lost at this point in his career.

Bryant's words ring true, and even more so when you consider that they come from a champion's perspective.

I'm not sure who the media will eventually name as the NBA's 2011 MVP, but I do know it will probably not be Kobe Bryant.

I don't think Bryant will mind terribly though, because the MVP award he is chasing is usually awarded once the NBA season really ends.