Well, I said something to myself today that I thought I'd never utter: Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA and deserves to the be the league's MVP. There, I said it.
That phrase is something I would have never been caught dead saying a year ago, yesterday or prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals when the Lakers played the Utah Jazz. But here I am reflecting on the opening game of the round, and realizing, wow, Kobe Bryant really is a player unlike any other in the sport today.
Here's why: After scoring 38 points, including 21-23 from the foul line, getting six rebounds and dishing out a team high seven assists, I said to myself, wow the Lakers won and Kobe didn't have a great game.
Are you kidding me? Kobe beat every defender Utah put on him off the dribble, attacked the rim at will finished with 38 points, led his team in assists and I'm not impressed?
This league is full of great players and LeBron James and Chris Paul will get their hardware as the years go on, but neither of them is the player, Kobe is.
No one in the league right now is.
Kobe has the quickness to get to the rim, the strength to body smaller defenders, a fall away jump shot matched by no one, and the ability to hit jumper after jumper with a man in his face. Every game he goes into, he knows he's going to get the opponents best defender, get doubled teamed, bumped, pushed and hacked. Yet somehow at the end of the night Kobe always gets his. He's so good that it isn't even news anymore when he has a 40 point game. It still is when LeBron, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson or anyone else in the league hits the mark.
I still think Bryant forces too many shots, complains too much and I will never forgive him for running the most dominant center of the era out of LA. But much like the people who vote for the NBA MVP did this year, it's time for me to give his Kobe his due justice.