It's hard to believe, but Kobe Bryant only won one MVP award in his decorated 20-year career (in 2008). He did, however, win two Finals MVPs and four All-Star MVPs to go along with his five rings.
Thanks to his obsessive focus, it's safe to say Kobe knows the game as well as anyone. So, who does the Black Mamba think should win the 2017-18 NBA MVP?
He's going with James Harden. The Rockets guard is the overwhelming favorite to win the award, and Basketball-Reference pegs his odds of claiming it at 68.1 percent. Of late, however, the pro-LeBron James camp has been vocal, claiming King James deserves the award because he's the best player in the league.
Still, the Mamba thinks Harden, who has averaged >0.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game, deserves the prestigious honor. Kobe shared his perspective during an appearance on ESPN's new morning show, Get Up, Tuesday.
"Well, I think James has done so much all season long," Kobe said after Jalen Rose asked him who would get his vote. "And for the last two years he's been playing phenomenally well, and had it not been for Westbrook's historic run last year, he certainly would have won MVP last year. And I think, which Russell by the way averaged another triple-double again this season. But I think what James has done from Game One all the way through Game 82, he deserves to be rewarded. This guy has worked his butt off for the entire season and has gotten his team to the place where they are now, I just don't know what there is left for him to do."
Bryant's perspective is sound. LeBron had an incredible second half of the season, but he wasn't in peak form in the first half, and he didn't appear to bring his best on the defensive end consistently. (Surprisingly, Harden actually had a strong defensive season.)
It would be a shock if LBJ overtook Harden, but we won't find out until the NBA Awards on June 25.