by Kevin Monroe


The voting for NBA most valuable player really only came down to two individuals, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.  The media has let the word get out that Steve Nash has won his second straight MVP. Nash would be only the 9th player in NBA history to win back to back MVP awards.  That list includes all current or future hall of famers Bill Russell, (1961,1962,1963) Wilt Chamberlain, (1966,1967,1968) Kareem Abdul Jabbar, (1971-72 & 1976-77) Moses Malone, (1982-1983) Larry Bird, (1985,1986,1987) Magic Johnson, (1989-1990) Michael Jordan, (1991-1992) and Tim Duncan (2002-2003).  Nash would be the third guard to win the award back to back behind Magic and Jordan, and the first point guard to do so.  Kobe Bryant has never won MVP.

As I watched the Lakers vs. Suns series I tried to determine who I truly thought this year’s MVP really was.  I should preface my comments with the fact that I have never been a Kobe Bryant fan and over the last few years and I have become less and less of a fan.  As a writer however, I have to be objective.  Kobe was awesome during the series, because he finally realized that in order to win a series, he would be forced get help from his teammates.  Raja Bell played tough defense on Kobe all series long and instead of forcing shots, he got Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown more involved.
Instead of the 35 points per game he averaged during the regular season, he averaged less than 25 points per game in the playoffs with the exception of the 50 point game 6 performance. The problem with the Lakers is that nobody else was willing to step up in the crunch and make a basket.  In game six, when the game went into overtime, Kobe was the only Laker to hit a basket in overtime.  On the other hand Steve Nash didn’t even have to attempt a shot in overtime.  He just ran the offense through Shawn Marion, Diaw, Bell, and others they all stepped up and made big shots.

When trying to determine who should be the most valuable player for 2006 we have to look at the whole season.  Neither team would have made the playoffs without these two stars; Kobe and Nash are irreplaceable for their teams.   Now let’s take it a step further, could LA have made the playoffs had they lost Lamar Odom for the season?  I don’t think so, that is why Steve Nash is the odds on favorite.  Nash had to orchestrate this entire playoff run with their most talented player out with injury.  Amire Stoudamire missed almost the entire season with the exception of a few games because of an injury.  Through all of that, Nash averaged just under 20 points per game led the league in free throw percentage and was the only player in the league to average more than 10 assists per game.

Some of the performances Kobe put on this year were beyond amazing, the 81 point game, the streak of 40 point games, and the multiple 50 point games.  The problem is, the players around him didn’t get better because of him and that is what truly makes a great player.  Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson all made their teammates better.  Steve Nash may not be on their level yet, but he surely makes everyone around him better.  With that being said, Steve Nash gets my vote for League MVP.

Kevin Monroe