2007 Mid-Season Awards -- Kobe Bryant for MVP
Posted Jan 24 2007 2:20PM
To fully understand why Kobe Bryant should be the MVP this season you really ought to go to a Lakers game. But make sure you get there early.
See, if youíre not there to watch the pre-game shoot around youíll miss Kobe play one-on-one with reserve forward Ronny Turiaf.
There youíll see him totally engaged Ė laughing, jawing, getting both his and Turiafís competitive fire ready for the night.
Now that youíre at the game, donít get disappointed if you see Brian Cook take more shots in the first quarter than the man that scored 81 in a single game last year. Cookie told me after a game in New Jersey earlier in the year that Kobe likes to look for him early to get his shot going. Thatís right, Bryant, and his career 24.1 points per game average, purposely deferring to a guy who scores just 6.8 a night to build his confidence.
If you start to get hungry, you might want to save that nachos run until halftime instead of when the opposing team is shooting free throws.
See, if you donít pay attention you might not notice Bryant out by the 3-point arch with his arm around Sasha Vujacic as he dispenses advice to the 22-year old gunner.
Heís telling him to keep shooting. Bryantís mouth is in Vujacicís ear and Vujacic is nodding like heís starting to get it. This is words of wisdom coming from a guy that started off in the league as an 18-year-old kid throwing up airballs in the playoffs who transformed himself into a man that nobody wants the assignment of guarding.
While youíll be there to watch Kobe, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for Luke Walton making a backdoor cut, because you know thatís what Kobe will be doing right before he threads the needle to Walton for a crucial lay-up late in the game.
Bryant, in his 11th season, did what nobody thought he would do Ė he became not just a great player, but a great teammate as well.
He has turned a rag-tag bunch of inexperienced players into winners. Aside from Turiaf, Vujacic and Walton, Bryantís other support has been guys like Smush Parker, Vladimir Radmanovic, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Farmar.
All of this and the Lakers are 27-15, putting them on pace for 53 wins, which would be an eight-game improvement on last yearís record.
Bryantís assists have gone up, up, up every month this season Ė 5.0 per game in November, 5.4 in December and 6.2 in January.
He season averages are 5.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds. Then, of course, there is his scoring. Bryantís average has dipped from 35.4 to 28.3 a night, but that doesnít mean he canít still fill it.
KB24 could have easily used last yearís MVP snub (he finished fourth!?) as motivation to score 40 a game this year and to prove just how awesome he could be individually.
But he didnít. He expanded his game, he trusted his teammates, he made sure he had the tank full when he needed it like that game against Utah when he scored 30 points in a single quarter en route to 52 for the game.
L.A. is 5-2 in Bryantís seven 40-plus point games this season with the only losses coming in overtime to the Wizards (his 45 points were outmatched by Gilbert Arenas as had the game of his life with 60) and in triple-OT to the Bobcats (58 points, third highest total of his career).
This is his year.