Former Laker Claims ‘Kobe Bryant Selfishly Wanted MVP’ in 2004 NBA Finals


Former Laker Claims ‘Kobe Bryant Selfishly Wanted MVP’ in 2004 NBA Finals


After losing in the second round of the playoffs against the eventual champions San Antonio Spurs in 2003, the Los Angeles Lakers made significant free agency moves and brought in veterans Gary Payton and Karl Malone to join their already proven basketball squad in order to add another championship to their collection.

Branded ‘a superteam’ by many, the Lakers cruised through the regular season with 56 wins while bearing a relationship feud between the two biggest stars and while being pestered by Kobe’s Colorado controversy. Long story short, the Lakers still managed to reach the NBA Finals, but were heavily upset by the Detroit Pistons in just five games. This Finals loss ultimately went down as one of the most disappointing moments in Lakers history.

Former Laker, Kareem Rush, now was looking back to their 2004 Finals series. During an appearance on ‘The Scoop B Radio’ podcast, Rush, who only played for the Lakers for two and a half seasons, recalled what went wrong in their Finals loss against Detroit, claiming Kobe was eyeing the Finals MVP award, which was one of the factors that contributed to the disappointing finish.


“I mean, they simply outplayed us. Karl [Malone] was hurt in that series. And I think Kobe selfishly wanted MVP,” said Rush. “I think that we were favored by everybody to win the series you know, and at the time Shaq had the first three Finals MVP’s. So I think Kobe had the mindset with that as the primary focus, but I think he was really itching to get that MVP – and we got caught off guard by a better team.”


The Lakers were the favorites to win the series, but the Pistons weren’t far behind at all. Coming into the finals, the Pistons finished the regular season with 54 wins which was just two wins shy of the Lakers’ 56. They also were ranked as the second-best defensive team in the league just behind the defending champions San Antonio Spurs.


“The Pistons were — they went on to do seven straight in the Conference Finals so that team was a winning team for the ages and they had a starting five that was very formidable. Those were all All-Star caliber,” said Rush. “They had a couple of Hall of Famers in Ben Wallace and Chauncey – and maybe even Rip [Hamilton]. So they were definitely a formidable team and they were BETTER than us at the time.”



After the Los Angeles Lakers lost in the Finals, they parted ways with Shaquille O’Neal and Gary Payton, while Karl Malone called it a career… Kobe Bryant remained, and the rest is history.

You may also like...