I’m having trouble understanding the local disdain for Kobe Bryant winning the most valuable player award at Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game.
Bryant was the obvious choice, the deserving choice. LeBron James was next in line with his triple-double (29 points, 12 rebounds; 10 assists). After that probably comes the Thunder’s Kevin Durant (34 points) or perhaps Amar’e Stoudemire (29 points; six rebounds). Chris Paul (10 points; seven assists; five steals) also had a nice game.
Bryant had 37 points and 14 rebounds — both game highs — and also had three assists and three steals. He shot 14 for 26 from the field and 7 for 8 from the free-throw line. That’s a pretty salty stat line in an All-Star Game. Doesn’t matter if the game is played on Bryant’s home court or in Salt Lake City.
There was no grand scheme for Bryant to win MVP, nor was there a conspiracy to prevent Durant from winning or keep Blake Griffin on the bench.
Keep in mind, Durant played more minutes (30) than any player on the West. He also took 23 shots despite having possession of the ball roughly one-10th as long as Bryant. That’s what you expect, given that Bryant is a combo guard and Durant is a forward.
Bryant had more style points. His degree of difficulty was far superior to anyone else, with James a distant second. This is just a guess, but Durant could have broken Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star scoring record (42), and he still might not have beaten out Bryant for MVP. Bryant was that good.
The West had three first-time All-Stars in Griffin, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, and Griffin played longer (15 minutes) than Westbrook (14) or Love (12). Griffin also played longer than Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. The All-Star Game approach of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was pretty simple. Young reserves wait their turn and the old guys get some rest. Remember, Griffin had a busy weekend, playing all three days while being the center of attention and dealing with the death of close friend and former high school teammate Wilson Holloway. Pop probably didn’t want to burn out Griffin.
So all the locals can chill. There was no conspiracy against Durant or Griffin.
However, if you want to talk about somebody who got robbed over the weekend, feel free to discuss Serge Ibaka, who was given a 45 for the longest dunk in NBA All-Star history.
Now that warrants some explaining from the judges.