L.A. Times: This year’s most-valuable-player race is expected to be close. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson’s nominee is the one he has seen up close for a while.
“Best year ever as far as an overall team player,” Jackson said of Kobe Bryant. “I think the judgment that I kind of make is, how much better do you make your teammates? This has been one of Kobe’s finest years in that regard.”
Jackson also credited Derek Fisher’s return and steadying influence as improving Bryant’s comfort level.
But of course, every nominee has someone supporting that role.
“I take a lot of the credit myself. I haven’t been playing lately, so Kobe has to have a lot of it,” Jackson deadpanned.
Jackson said he is not shocked that Bryant has not won an MVP award in his 11-year career.
“With Shaq[uille] O’Neal on his team for [eight] of those years, basically Kobe was going to be a second choice as far as the most valuable player on that team,” he said. “Since that time, not making the playoffs the subsequent year, there wasn’t an opportunity.
“The following year, he really had an exceptional year. He led the league in scoring. He had some outrageous games . . . that was the year that I would have guessed he could have been named as MVP, but with [ Steve] Nash coming and the really unbelievable season Phoenix had, you had to consider that as a factor.”