Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant has led the way for the Los Angeles Lakers once again this season. As if leading the league in scoring (28.9 ppg) isn’t impressive enough for a 33-year-old with numerous injuries over the last few years including this year, Kobe just can’t seem to be stopped no matter what stands in his way during this shortened NBA season.
Coming into this season, Kobe Bryant faced arguably the toughest challenge of his career, taking the floor without his mentor Phil Jackson calling the shots from the sidelines. Along with the Zen Master calling it quits, the Lakers traded away one of Kobe’s best friends and teammates on the squad in Lamar Odom in the aftermath of the vetoed Chris Paul trade.
This made things extremely difficult for the aging Black Mamba heading into a new era of Lakers basketball. As if that wasn’t hard enough, Kobe has also had to deal with a failing marriage and expensive divorce to Vanessa Bryant in the process. The two might reconcile before the divorce is finalized, but the off-the-court problems have almost certainly taken its toll on the NBA superstar.
Despite all the changes going on in his life on and off the court this season, Kobe Bryant remains stronger than ever when suiting up for the Lakers. Not only is Kobe in the running for his second NBA MVP award, but his teammates have his back and believe that he deserves that second Maurice Podoloff Trophy at season’s end.
Lakers’ forwards Luke Walton and Pau Gasol talked with Melissa Rohlin of the L.A. Times about Kobe Bryant’s MVP caliber season:
Luke Walton: “It’s time for him to get his second one. Just with the shortened season and you know the new coaching staff, he’s done an amazing job with keeping us right at the level we’ve been at the last few years.”
Pau Gasol: “I think so. Absolutely. I think he’s just stepping up and he’s just playing huge, night after night.”
There is no question at this point in the NBA regular season that Kobe Bryant is one of the few players in the running for the NBA MVP award. LeBron James (27.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 6.8 apg), Kevin Durant (28.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg), Dwight Howard (20.4 ppg, 15 rpg, 2.2 blkpg) and Kevin Love (25 ppg, 13.6 rpg) are also getting some strong consideration for the league’s most prestigious regular season award.