Bryant Named to NBA All Defensive First Team

Kobe Bryant was rewarded for another outstanding defensive season by being named to his ninth career All-NBA Defensive team, including seven times on the first team.

The accolade marks his fourth straight season on the First Team, which he also occupied in 2000, 2003 and 2004, in addition to Second Team appearances in 2001 and 2002. In fact, Bryant now becomes one of nine players with at least seven First Team selections; Michael Jordan and Gary Payton head that list with nine selections.

Bryant finished 12th in the NBA in steals with 1.46 per game, but it was his ability and willingness to defend players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or fill-in-your-best-perimeter-scorer of L.A.'s opponents that earned him another First Team appearance.

Here's the official release from the NBA:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, winner of the 2008-09 Defensive Player of the Year Award presented by Kia Motors, and guard Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced today. By totaling 55 points overall, including 27 First Team votes, Howard edged Bryant (53 points overall and 24 First Team votes) as the leading vote-getter.

Also selected to the All-Defensive First Team are forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (47 points), New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul (36 points) and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (35 points).

Howard led the league in rebounds (13.8 ppg) and blocks (2.9 bpg), becoming only the fifth player to lead the league in both categories in the same season (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, L.A. Lakers, 1975-76; Bill Walton, Portland 1976-77; Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston, 1989-90; Ben Wallace, Detroit, 2001-02). Howard and the Magic held opponents under 100 points 54 times this season -- compiling a 43-11 record in those games.

The NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of center Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, guards Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, and forwards Shane Battier and Ron Artest of the Houston Rockets. Duncan has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive team 12 consecutive seasons.

The voting panel consisted of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who were asked to select NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams by position. Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own team. Two points were awarded for a First Team vote and one point was awarded for a Second Team vote.

Attached are the results for the 2008-09 NBA All-Defensive Teams balloting: