The late Kobe Bryant famously won just one NBA MVP award throughout his illustrious career. Surely, the LA Lakers superstar, who played from 1996 to 2016, deserved multiple NBA MVP awards. However, he certainly made up for any snubs by winning five championships and a couple of Finals MVPs.
His sole MVP-winning season came after the 2007-08 regular season, but he probably deserved to have won at least one MVP before that one.
In terms of the Most Valuable Player award vote, Bryant recorded 11 top-five finishes. That included one second-place finish and three third-place finishes. Bryant ranks second in league history in top-five MVP finishes, behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 15. (Abdul-Jabbar, however, won the award six times in his 20 seasons.)
Kobe Bryant's Top 3 finishes in the NBA Most Valuable Player award voting
Overall, Bryant achieved 12 top-10 finishes in the voting, all consecutively from 2001 to 2013.
Here are Bryant's top three finishes for the MVP award.
No. 3: 2002-03 season | 3rd
Bryant was third in the MVP voting three times. His first top-three finish came in 2002-03, and he earned 496 points with eight first-place votes.
The second came in 2006-07, when he earned 521 points and a couple of first-place votes. The third occurred in 2009-10, with 599 points, although he didn't have a single first-place vote.
In 2002-03, Bryant and his LA Lakers were coming off a three-peat, guided by Shaquille O'Neal's dominance and Bryant's incredible skill and clutch shots.
The run of titles for Los Angeles stopped in the 2003 playoffs. But the team's 50-32 record (fifth in the West) and Bryant's averages of 30 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game helped him earn MVP votes.
No. 2: 2008-09 season | 2nd
When LeBron James won his first MVP award, Bryant finished second. However, Bryant's quest for consecutive MVP trophies wasn't really close to materializing, as James had 109 first-place votes, well clear of Bryant's two.
That year, however, ended with the Lakers winning the NBA title, Bryant's fourth, and he also earned his first Finals MVP award.
During the 2008-09 regular season, Bryant led Los Angeles to a 65-17 record and the first seed in the West while averaging 26.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, with a 46/35/85 shooting split.
No. 1: 2007-08 season | 1st
Bryant won his first and only MVP award in 2007-08, his 12th season. That year, he won the award with 82 first-place votes, over Chris Paul's 28.
Bryant led the Lakers to the top seed in the Western Conference with a 57-25 regular-season record.
The Lakers' first seed in the West was impressive, as the eight teams who made it to the playoffs all had at least 50 wins.
Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while playing all 82 regular-season games and putting up a 46/36/84 shooting split. He led the Lakers to the 2008 Finals, but the Boston Celtics prevailed in six games.