Yesterday’s leak that Steve Nash had won the NBA’s MVP Award for the second season running had more than a few Kobe Bryant acolytes crying foul. The brutal posterizing of Nash aside, the LA Times’ J.J. Adande testifies that Bryant’s unselfish side was the key to the Lakers’ Game 2 victory.

Bryant had all the necessary supplies to go into a me-against-the-world mode if he chose. A local newspaper here cited an NBA source saying Steve Nash won the most valuable player award. A poll of league GMs reached the same conclusion. Other L.A. and national outlets reported Bryant would switch from No. 8 to No. 24 next season, which agitated Bryant because he didn’t want the news to get out yet.

But Bryant didn’t come out to dunk on every Sun or silence the fans in US Airways Center. His response was to thread a bounce pass to a cutting Luke Walton, to find an open Sasha Vujacic on the other side of the court or to snatch a defensive rebound.
Bryant out-Nashed Nash. Would anyone have predicted that Nash would have more points and Bryant more assists at halftime?

Also, the Lakers did a better job of playing without their superstar. Nash sat out for most of a 7 1/2 -minute scoreless stretch in the first half. But when Bryant went to the bench with his third foul and three minutes left in the second quarter, the Lakers actually increased their lead.

On the MVP debate, True Hoop’s Henry Abbot opines,

If Nash and Bryant switched places, Bryant would no doubt to spectacular things in Phoenix. But Nash would still be winning titles with Shaquille O’Neal, because he knows how to be a good teammate.