By Frank Hughes, for NBA.com
Posted Dec 27 2009 2:29PM
With the NBA's last two MVPs facing each other on Christmas Day, The Race wonders where exactly that honor fits into the pantheon of accomplishments for Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, particularly since he is playing at a level that regularly prompts the Staples Center faithful to chant in unison for him.
Apparently, winning the award means more to the fans than it does to Bryant.
"It never mattered to me," Bryant said flatly.
After all, it is the stark pronouncement that at least for a six-month stretch, you are the best player in the world, bar none.
"That wasn't the challenge for me," Bryant said of the MVP. "The challenge for me was could I elevate everybody around me. Individually, all my peers -- whose opinions I value the most -- all my peers consider me a great player. So that was enough.
"But the challenge was could I elevate a group of guys to win a championship. The MVP award, even though I hadn't won one -- and people say maybe I should have won it this year, maybe I should have won it that year -- became inconsequential. The real challenge was getting this team to the top."
The Race wonders whether Bryant could say the same thing had he not received the award following the 2007-08 season. It certainly is easier to dismiss an achievement after having accomplished it than it is if it remains the carrot after which one is chasing.
For the record, The Race thought Bryant should have won the MVP award after he went for 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006 and averaged a career-high 35.4 points. That was the year Steve Nash won his second straight MVP. That Bryant had to wait another two years to receive his first MVP is incredible.
"That just kind of happened," Bryant said. "I had a great team and great guys here. We gelled and bonded and the MVP ended up being a byproduct of that."
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