Kobe Bryant Wins 2010 Finals MVP
He may not have won the regular season MVP. But as the 2009-10 season drew to a close, Kobe Bryant was the last superstar left standing. And while tonight may not have been his most scintillating performance ever, Bryant did what he had to, leading his team to the NBA title over the Boston Celtics.
That's why, for the second time in as many postseasons, the Lakers are taking home the Larry O'Brien trophy and Kobe hoisted the Bill Russell Award, better known as the NBA Finals MVP.
The game that clinched the title for Bryant and the Lakers was hard fought and often ugly. Bryant wasn't exactly his usual high-scoring self, going for 23 points on 6 for 24 shooting. In keeping with the gritty game, though, he did pull down 15 boards -- much as, earlier in the playoffs, Kobe put up higher-than-usual assist totals when his team needed to get together on offense.
This was typical of the run that lead Bryant to his fifth ring. He not only showed that he could win without Shaquille O'Neal -- that was 2009 -- but also did whatever Los Angeles needed to get the win. For the playoffs, Kobe averaged 29.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists.
It also brought them some much-needed vindication against the Celtics, who summarily beat down the Lakers in the 2008 Finals. Which, when you're talking about one of the most storied rivalries in sports, is never a bad thing.
The real question now is whether Phil Jackson will return to seek a second three-peat. That would tie the Lakers with the Celtics for most titles by an NBA team. If Kobe Bryant gets another, he'll have as many as Michael Jordan, the player whose long shadow he once found it impossible to escape. Though at this point, Kobe is very much his own man. And after tonight, he pretty much has nothing left to prove.