Russell Westbrook is the newest NBA MVP. The triple-double man amazed the world all season long. However, Westbrook and his Oklahoma City Thunder were only able to attain the 6th best record in the West (47-25). The NBA MVP award has usually been given to players who have led their teams to the top three or four positions in their conference. Thus, this sets a precedent. The team's success might not be atop the list of criteria to deserve the award after all. Westbrook's accomplishment reminds me of a legend who was usually in similar situations but was rather snubbed, Kobe Bryant.

NBA MVP finally rewards the individual

The NBA MVP is an award for the individual, not the team. However, pundits continue to directly associate it with the degree of success of the player's team. Yes, the team's success is what defines the season and is clearly what is most important, but this is why the Larry O'Brien championship trophy exists and is handed to the champions at the end of the season. The MVP should reward individual excellence. A player worthy of the MVP should be pushing people around the world to turn on their televisions to watch him perform. Westbrook did just that. He also averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game.

An NBA star is not always surrounded by quality teammates.

Of course, an MVP calibre player will bring his teammates together and lead them in the right direction. But one can only do so much sometimes. The context in which a player performs and the degree of help he gets from his teammates cannot be overlooked. Westbrook's situation in Oklahoma has been a perfect example, but so has that of Kobe Bryant in several seasons.

Westbrook and Kobe are unique MVPs

Russell Westbrook had a weak supporting cast at his disposition following Kevin Durant's infamous departure. Westbrook was joined by Victor Oladipo, Andre Robinson, Domantas Sabonis, and Steven Adams in the starting lineup. None of these players are even close to being All-Star calibre players.

Kobe Bryant played alongside the likes of Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, and Stanislav Medvendenko for several seasons, especially after Shaquille O'Neal's departure. Kobe led a team that clearly lacked talent. The Los Angeles Lakers were able to overachieve in these seasons thanks to Kobe's play and ability to put his team on his back. Westbrook's merit, like Kobe's merit at the time, is greater than any other superstar in the league. However, Westbrook has been rewarded for his extraordinary accomplishment, while Kobe seemed to be snubbed and underappreciated year after year. Kobe's first and only MVP finally came in 2008.

Kobe Bryant ended his 20-year career with a single regular season MVP.

Yes, Kobe Bryant, The Black Bamba, the five-time champion, the player with the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history, the player who had four consecutive games of 50 points or more, and the list could go on and on.

Four times Kobe deserved the MVP

Kobe had certain seasons that resemble this last one from Westbrook. Kobe averaged 30 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds in the 2002/2003 season. In this season, the NBA world marveled at Kobe's play. His streak of 9 straight games of at least 40 points was nothing short of special. The Lakers ended up with the fifth seed in the Western Conference, with 10 wins less than the first-seeded San Antonio Spurs. The MVP went to Tim Duncan, who averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Kobe averaged a staggering 35 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds in the 2005/2006 season. This includes his legendary 81 point game against the Raptors. However, the Lakers could only attain the 7th spot in the West. Steve Nash was the MVP that year, with averages of 18 points, 10 assists, and 4 rebounds.

Kobe had averages of 32 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the 2006/207. It was in this season that he had his outrageous run of 50 plus points in four consecutive games. Again, a deficient Lakers team was only able to be 7th in the West, while the Dallas Mavericks led the conference. Their star player, Dirk Nowitzki, won the MVP thanks to his 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.

Kobe not only had better statistical numbers than the MVPs in those years, but he transcended the game.

Many people had a reason to watch the NBA only because of him. The Los Angeles Lakers would not have made the playoffs in any of those seasons if it wasn't for him, and I doubt any other superstar in the league at the time would have come close to what Kobe did with such limited resources on his team.

Kobe had spectacular seasons worthy of MVP awards but was spoiled by his team's ultimate position in the Western conference, or at least that is what critics said. Westbrook's MVP award, despite a similar team success, makes one wonder why Kobe was overlooked for so long in the MVP category.