LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant has won the NBA's MVP award for the first time, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website Friday night, citing anonymous sources familiar with the outcome of voting by media members.
|This has been a season of surprises and redemption for Kobe Bryant. (Getty Images)|
"We have not been told anything by the league," Lakers spokesman John Black told the Associated Press.
Bryant, who entered the season as the league's two-time defending scoring champion, had finished third in the MVP voting twice -- after the 2002-03 campaign, when he averaged 30 points for the first time, and again last season, when Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki won the award.
Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.84 steals while playing in all 82 games despite tearing a ligament in his right pinkie finger in February. A hand specialist recommended surgery, but Bryant decided to put it off until after the Olympics this summer.
He led the Lakers to the best record in the Western Conference and a sweep of Denver in the first round of the playoffs. The Lakers open the second round Sunday against Utah at Staples Center.
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.