Derek Fisher Says Teammate Kobe Bryant Is the Front-Runner for NBA MVP

Los Angeles Lakers veteran guard Derek Fisher said he has been fortunate to have played with several of the toughest players in the NBA.

No one, he said, has shown to be as cohesive as teammate Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, a 15-year veteran, has played through an array of injuries in recent weeks, most notably a concussion and nasal fracture he suffered on a hard foul by Miami’s Dwyane Wade in the recent All-Star Game. All the 33-year-old superstar has done since playing with a protective mask for the past seven games is emerge as the league’s top scorer with 28.8 points per games, edging out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who averages 27.9 points.

The Lakers (25-16) play at the Memphis Grizzlies (24-16) Tuesday night.

Bryant, who walked out onto the FedExForum court Tuesday morning wearing a gray Nike jogging suit and dark shades, participated in the Lakers’ hour-long shootaround, but returned to the team bus without speaking with reporters. That the banged-up shooting guard is playing with such poise during a pivotal stage in the season for a Laker team that is currently third in the Western Conference playoff race comes as no surprise to Fisher, who has on two separate occasions for a combined 12 seasons with the 14-time All-Star.

“He just continues to do, at least for me, what I’ve been accustomed to seeing him do what he’s doing,” Fisher said of Bryant.

So efficient Bryant has been of late that the Lakers, winners of two straight and five of seven since the All-Star break, now trail second-place San Antonio by just a single game and the first-place Thunder by five-and-a-half games with 24 regular season contests remaining. Bryant’s recent stellar play, to his credit, has prompted various media pundits to debate not only whether the Lakers are serious title contenders, but whether he is the front-runner for NBA Most Valuable Player, an a...

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