The lone highlight in an otherwise disastrous Lakers season involved none other than Kobe Bryant.
A revamped diet, improved legs and an never-ending competitive drive allowed Bryant to play like he did in his prime. With the Lakers fighting for playoff contention, he often single-handily willed his team to victory. Even when he suffered a torn left Achilles tendon, Bryant managed to hit two free throws in the waning moments before hobbling off the court.
And for those efforts, Bryant is among one of the nominees to receive an ESPY award for “Best NBA Player.” When the ESPY Awards start tonight at 6 p.m. PST at the Nokia Theatre, it’s possible others will receive the award. Miami’s LeBron James is the likely winner since he brought the Heat to a second consecutive championship. Or perhaps New York’s Carmelo Anthony or Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant as the league’s top two scorers. Or maybe Bryant, who averaged 27.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6 assists, a slight upgrade over his career numbers of 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
Should Bryant win the ESPY award, he won’t be there to receive it. According to the Twitter account of Lakers strength & conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco, Bryant’s currently in France.
With five NBA championships, two Finals MVPS, a fourth place standing on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, Bryant receiving what would be his third ESPY trophy will hardly mean much. But it still reveals how Bryant still maintained his prolific play on an otherwise disappointing Lakers team.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org