Kobe Bryant placed fifth in NBA MVP voting according to the official ballot released today. The Mamba received 184 points, behind 4-time winner LeBron James (1,207 points), Kevin Durant (765), Carmelo Anthony (475) and Chris Paul (289). James was one vote shy of a unanimous selection, a feat never before accomplished in the league. The award is his fourth in five years--only Bill Russell (five), Michael Jordan (five) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) have won more MVPs than LeBron. Absolutely amazing.
Considering how the Lakers finished well below regular season expectations with 45 wins, Kobe did very well for himself in voting. Along with his fifth place finish, he secured 4 second place votes, 12 third place votes, 23 fourth place votes and 27 fifth place votes. He received around 100 more points than the sixth and seventh place runners-up in a pair of Spurs, Tony Parker (86 points) and Tim Duncan (65). Unsurprisingly, no other Laker got even a fifth place vote. This ballot is the first in six years not to feature Dwight Howard's name on it, as the center has finished in the top-7 for the past five years.
To put this in a historical perspective, Kobe now has ten top-10 MVP finishes, good for the 11th most MVP-shares in league history. Meaning, in a MVP ballot-like standing, Bryant has received more weighted votes for his greatness than everyone but just 10 players ever--an illustrious group that includes Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Russell, James, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Wilt Chamberlain.
There's no doubt that Kobe would have finished higher if not for his team's lowly win total; his 2012-2013 season offensively was on par with just about any of his great years dating back to 2000. Bryant averaged an amazing 27.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 6.0 apg on a very good .463/.324/.839 shooting slash line in 78 games. More importantly, he never dogged it every single night, including a late season three week stretch in which he played no fewer than 43 minutes in any game. Defensively, as we've covered ad naseum on SS&R, he was a shell of himself; this undoubtedly cost him a few points in the final MVP standings.
The only question at this point is whether or not Kobe made 1st Team All-NBA. Bryant's 10 1st Team nods put him in second tied with Bob Cousy, Bob Petit, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Jordan and Abdul-Jabbar, trailing Malone's 11 selections. Kobe's overall 14 selections to 1st, 2nd or 3rd Team All-NBA tie him with Malone and O'Neal for second most all-time, right behind the 15 from Kareem. Another 1st Team selection would be a very significant honor to add to number 24's already crowded resume.
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