The race for the NBA’s regular season scoring title, awarded each year to the NBA player who has the highest points per game scoring average, could come down to the wire.
With Kevin Durant scoring 32 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder in their regular season-ending 101-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, the 23-year-old NBA star ends his season averaging 28.03 points per game.
On his heels, however, is Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant. Bryant, who is averaging 27.86 points per game. He will get one final chance to knock Durant out of the top scoring spot Thursday night as the Lakers take on the Sacramento Kings.
The question is, will he even attempt to capture the 2011-2012 scoring crown?
Given that tonight’s match-up is meaningless in terms of playoff seeding, Lakers’ head coach Mike Brown told the media that he would likely rest his starters, but would ultimately leave the decision whether or not to play up to them.
Kobe, who has already missed 7 games this season with an injury to his shin, has publicly stated that the scoring title doesn’t mean much to him. At the same time, however, the Kobe arrogance we’ve come to know quite well manifested itself when he told the Los Angeles times, “You guys know I can get it. I’m not really tripping about it.”
So which is it? Will he risk injury in a meaningless game in order to capture a crown that he considers to be “not very important?”
Or will his pride force him into playing?
If I am being honest, I think that if Kobe knew he could get it, he would play. As it stands now, I am not so sure, considering the Laker forward needs 38 points to overtake Durant.
If Kevin Durant wins the scoring title for this season, it will be his third consecutive time to win it, after becoming the youngest player in NBA history to achieve the feat in 2010. He could become the first player to win three-in-a-row since the great Michael Jordan did so from 1995-1998.
If Kobe does decide to play and and scores 38 or more points against the Kings, however, he would be just the 2nd 33-year-old to win it, also behind Michael Jordan, who is the oldest player to win the award at 34 (he did win it at 33 as well).
If Bryant sits or if he plays, either way, I don’t blame him.
It’s easy for me to say he should put the good of the team ahead of himself, but then again, who knows what any of us would do if actually put into his position?
And if he does play, can he even score the 38 needed to steal the title from Durant? That’s not exactly easy–even for Kobe.
Of course, both Durant and Bryant would tell you that they would much rather have the NBA title for their respective teams rather than an individual scoring title, but anyone who has ever played sports knows that, despite what one says, personal accolades are in fact pretty special.
Regardless of who walks away from the regular season as this year’s leading scorer, it’s been a fun battle to watch between the two NBA superstars.