While Shaquille O’Neal likes former teammate Kobe Bryant’s chances at winning a record fifth All-Star MVP, it doesn’t appear as though Kobe is at all concerned with winning the prestigious honor.
O’Neal got the ball rolling earlier this week, implying that Bryant will go for the award.
“If he can find his stroke and get it going a little bit, I can guarantee you he’s going to go for the MVP,” O’Neal said, per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s his last one. Why not go out with a bang?”
But if Bryant is in fact interested in winning the game’s MVP, he’s not saying it.
“Why? I’m good. I’m good. I’m good,” Bryant said, per Medina. “I’ll make a couple jump shots and try to play the best I can. But I’m OK.”
While having the record to himself would certainly be a feather in Bryant’s cap, his attitude is the right one. Bryant has five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, two NBA Finals MVP’s, one regular season MVP, and would be conservatively called nothing worse than a Top-15 player in NBA history.
Setting the All-Star MVP record would be nice, but would by no means impact Kobe Bryant’s place in the game’s history, nor would failing to win it.
For his part, Bryant says he’s more concerned with just soaking up the experience and having fun with his peers.
“I can’t wait to be around them and just talk to them and see how far the game has progressed and seeing all this young talent and the different generations of players,” Bryant said. “I’ll be able to sit in the locker room and seriously just look at it all and just smile and just take it all in.”
Bryant’s four All-Star MVP’s (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) are currently tied with Bob Pettit (1956, 1958, 1959, 1962) for the most in the history of the game.
He received more All-Star votes than any player from either side this year and will be starting for the Western Conference along with Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.