Report: Kobe wins first career MVP award

Kobe Bryant has been selected the NBA’s most valuable player for the first time in his 12-year career, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The newspaper cited sources familiar with the outcome who were not authorized to speak publicly about the award until the official announcement next week.

“We have not been told anything by the league,” Lakers spokesman John Black told The Associated Press.

Bryant, 29, has won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and is widely regarded as the league’s premier talent. But he had never come close to winning an MVP before this season — he was third in voting last year, his highest finish.

Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the regular season. More importantly, he led the Lakers to a 57-25 record and the top seed in the rugged Western Conference.

The award figured to go to either Bryant, New Orleans point guard Chris Paul or Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.

Bryant, second in the NBA in scoring behind Cleveland’s LeBron James, will be the first Lakers player to win the MVP award since Shaquille O’Neal was a near-unanimous choice in 2000. Other previous Lakers to win the award dating to 1956, when it was first presented, were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, who each won it three times. Abdul-Jabbar also won three with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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