Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Salute the MVP

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player at a news conference on Tuesday.

Bryant, in his 12th season, has long been considered the league's most talented player but finally received MVP recognition with 1,105 points, including 82 first-place votes, ahead of New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, who finished second in the voting with 28 first-place votes and 890 points.

Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett finished third with 670 points and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James received 438 points, finishing in fourth in what was a heavily debated race for much of the season.

"I really don't know what to say, it's such an honour and a blessing to be here," Bryant said. "It's a very special day for me."

Labelled as a selfish player, Bryant apparently turned his mind-set around, letting his all-around game flourish this campaign.

The 29-year-old ranked second in the league in scoring with 28.3 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

While his stats fell a bit, he became a willing passer and a good team-mate, also showing the ability to play through pain while nursing a torn ligament in his small finger for much of the season.

"I couldn't have won this award without the play of my team-mates," Bryant said. "I can't thank these guys enough - we won this award."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said: "I want to offer my congratulations to Kobe.

"I don't think anyone has ever worked as hard and there's no person more deserving."

Bryant becomes the first Lakers player to receive the award since Shaquille O'Neal in 2000, capping a whirlwind season for the Los Angeles superstar.

Bryant littered the off-season with on-again, off-again trade demands and had a reported rift with Lakers' management, which he accused of not doing their best to improve the team.

Los Angeles, who had failed to progress beyond the first round of the play-offs in three seasons before ousting the eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets in four games this campaign, appeased Bryant by acquiring former All-Star centre Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies on February 1.

No comments: