NBA MVP 2013: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant widen value gap

Kobe Bryant Public DomainIn a set of circumstances indicative of the winds of change around the NBA, superstar Miami Heat everyman LeBron James won his second consecutive NBA MVP Award with a near-unanimous vote; Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, was voted fifth in the pecking order. 

In front of Bryant were Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul in addition to James, who collected all but one vote for first place for a total of 120 votes. His aggregate score was 1,207. By comparison, The Black Mamba received no first place votes, four for second place, 12 for third, 23 for fourth and 27 for fifth for a total of 184 within the same points system.

Bryant was nothing short of spectacular in 2012-13, averaging 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game — all above his career averages. His 46.3 percent field goal percentage was just a fraction away from his career high of 46.9, and he displayed the type of explosiveness reminiscent of the player that could out-duel any of the league’s best defenders from all three levels. 

But times have changed, and there were somehow four candidates who deserved to be placed ahead of the 34-year-old in the pecking order. 

One thing about the MVP award that remains a mystery, however, is precisely what the award means. Is it the best player on the best team? Because LeBron James is clearly that. Is it the league’s most popular player? Again, James may have the edge there, too, although Bryant could give him a run for his money in that regard. 

In all likelihood, the MVP award is given to the player who is the most valuable to his team. That is and should be the spirit of the award, and an argument could be made that Bryant is above the rest in that area, but it goes defunct when looking at offensive win shares — Bryant is No. 7 on that list with a total of 8.4. James, Durant and Paul each finished the NBA regular season as No.’s 1, 2 and 3 in that area. What that means is that the voters likely got it right, and no matter what Bryant does, including run himself into the ground to will his team into the regular season after turning in Herculean efforts just go get them there, it won’t ever be enough to earn him consideration for the league’s most valuable player. 

As disappointing as that is for Lakers fans, it’s reality. Things will never be the same in Laker-land. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His credits include Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report, among others.


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