Commentary

Amazing Race: MVP competition heats up

Originally Published: March 23, 2006
By ESPN.com

Down the stretch we're in what is shaping up to be one of the closest MVP races in NBA history. Steve Nash of the Suns appears to be the favorite. But he has plenty of competition.

The Mavs' Dirk Nowitzki certainly has an outside shot. Elton Brand continues to be a steady force for the Clippers. The defending champion Spurs have a dark-horse candidate in Tony Parker. And Kobe Bryant has proven he can never be counted out.

Meanwhile, the East has two young studs in Miami's Dwyane Wade and Cleveland's LeBron James. Plus, there's Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Boston's Paul Pierce and the list goes on ...

So who will win? Our ESPN.com experts call the race.

Use the drop-down box below to see our experts' picks:

ESPN.COM'S MVP RACE
 

Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
Kobe Bryant is the best player in the game.

Forget that his team is hovering around .500 and forget the notion he must make his teammates better to be MVP. It takes time for a team to adjust to working with a player whose game is at such a high level, and vice-versa. MJ was once the only one playing at that high a frequency, and it took time to assemble the right team that fit him.

And forget the numbers, as impressive as they are. Let's go by what we see: a man going full out from tip-off, bringing a single-minded approach to each possession. On defense, he guards the other team's best player, whether it's Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups or Steve Nash.

It's hard to find anybody in better condition. That's hard work and a commitment to excellence. We can't forget that. He's the MVP. -- B.J. Armstrong


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Key stats: 34.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg
Lakers' record: 36-34, 7th in West