Kobe Bryant named to All-NBA first team; Pau Gasol makes second team
This isn't the mark Kobe Bryant measures himself by in terms of his legacy.
But in a season that Bryant described as a "waste of his life," there's at least some solace to the Lakers getting swept in the Western Conference semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks. OK, well not really. But at least there's signs that the Lakers weren't entirely bad, even if they underachieved.
For the ninth time in his career and the sixth time in a row, Bryant was named to the All-NBA first team after finishing fifth in the league in scoring (25.3 points per game). Lakers forward Pau Gasol was named to the All-NBA second team for the first time in his career.
Despite the accolades, this by no means marked peak performances for either player. Bryant's 98 first-team votes from a panel of 119 sportswriters and broadcasters widely contrasts with the unanimous vote for Miami's LeBron James and the 118 votes each to Chicago's Derrick Rose and Orlando's Dwight Howard. Bryant's higher vote total than Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (68) shows he's not on the downfall just yet. But Bryant's regular-season averages of 25.3 points in 33.9 minutes per game marked his lowest statistical output since the 2003-04 season, and his playoff averages of 22.9 points in 35.4 minutes marked his lowest mark since the 1999-2000 season.
Gasol's no stranger to being lumped with the likes of other All-NBA second team candidates in Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, New York's Amare Stoudemire, Miami's Dwayne Wade and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook. But the 2010-11 campaign also featured a self-admitted underachieving performance which saw Gasol fight inconsistency and fatigue throughout the regular season, and then unravel in the playoffs in both statistical production (13.1 points on 42% shooting), aggressiveness and frustration.
Surely, neither player will pat himself on the back for this award, nor should they. But it's at least a reminder that when we're talking about the Lakers' offseason moves they might need to make, the team isn't exactly fielding a team of scrubs.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant reflects on the season while speaking to reporters at the team's practice facility in El Segundo on Wednesday. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / May 11, 2011).