"An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time."
A line from one of my favorite movies of all time Shawshank Redemption, embodies my feelings towards Kobe Bryant.
For as long as I have been watching basketball, Kobe Bryant has been the player I have despised the most.
It was part in fact that he played for the evil empire Lakers. I've hated the Lakers the way I've always despised the Yankees and Cowboys. The rebel in me loathed the anointed "America's teams".
It was part in fact he was considered as the "Next Jordan". And being a child of the 90's Jordan is something of a basketball messiah in my eyes. Beyond comparison.
The reasons for my dislike of the man had nothing to do with his play, but what he represented.
Then somewhere during the progression of this season my hatred turned into admiration for one Kobe Bean Bryant.
What Kobe has done this season has been astonishing and jaw dropping.
He has been an amoeba for the Lakers this season, changing from scorer to facilitator to scorer to facilitator. Being whatever the Lakers needed him to be at that particular time.
He has had to deal with three different head coaches. And Mike D'Antoni's stubbornness to implement a system mid season that didn't fit the talents of "his" team.
Injuries and extended absences to All Stars Steve Nash and Pau Gasol.
The drama and inconsistent play of the team's fourth All Star and prized off-season acquisition Dwight Howard.
A team so progressed in age on the perimeter, it has had to lean on the 34 year old Bryant to cover opposing point guards.
All of this helped contribute to the Lakers being eight games under .500 on January 23rd. A hole that no team in NBA history has climbed out of that late in the season to make the playoffs.
Then on top of all of this the organization lost it's patriarch Dr. Jerry Buss in February.
Yet, here we are on March 11th and the Lakers are playing the best basketball outside of Miami. Not only are they going to make the playoffs, but just might claw their way to the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Sure, Dwight's re-commitment to defense and rebounding deserve a ton of credit.
But, Kobe has lead the Lakers not only on the court but more importantly off of it. He has used his vast knowledge of the psychology of a team, learned from the greatest of all time Phil Jackson. To steer the Lakers in the correct direction.
Kobe's will and determination has pulled the Lakers away from the discussion of one of team sports greatest failures.
Kobe's will and dedication has bled through to the rest of the Lakers, especially Howard.
Howard comments to the LA Times earlier this week showed Kobe's effect, "We talked and [Bryant] told me what he did when he had problems, and I see it for myself now." "He was always saying, 'I get into the gym and shoot 5,000 shots.' To see it shows me how dedicated he is." "You see it and it just kind of gives you more inspiration."
Just a few weeks ago headed into All Star weekend most people had wrote of the Lakers playoff chances. Now not only will they make it, but will make noise when the get there.
This is all thanks to Kobe Bryant and that is why I believe he is the 2013 MVP.
Sure, LeBron James is putting together a statistical season that few have ever accomplished. But, he hasn't been as valuable to the Heat this season as Kobe has been to the Lakers.
LeBron has benefited from the relaxed pressure as a byproduct from last season's championship. As well as continuity of the Heat's roster, the only change the addition of Ray Allen the leagues best shooter and one of the league's best gentlemen. All of this helped LeBron prosper this season.
The mine field Kobe has guided the Lakers through this year is one of those things that can't be defined by statistics. Kobe's leadership and tenacity in the darkest of hours can't be defined by the player efficiency rating.
LeBron has the best statistics in the league, but that doesn't automatically mean he is the league's most valuable player.
LeBron plays on the best team, but doesn't mean he is more valuable than Kobe.
LeBron is the league's best player, just not the most valuable in 2013.
I used to hate you Kobe Bryant, but now I can't do anything other than admire you.
I guess all it took was pressure and time.