Is it just me, or is Kobe Bryant a serious candidate to take home "Best Year Ever" honors the next time does one of those ridiculously unwatchable year in review shows. In the last twelve months, Kobe has went from being a unabashedly selfish rape suspect who bought his wife $4 million "Don't Leave Me" rings and singlehandedly brought down the 21st century's first professional sports dynasty to the NBA's greatest scorer since MJ who still has the ability to give you 25 a night with 15 assists if needed while still reserving the right to blow up for 50 plus if the mood strikes him right. Not to mention the fact that all of a sudden he's a media darling, as evidenced by his new sponsorship deal with Nike and undoubtedly helped by the fact that he's playing his best team basketball ever this postseason after being blatantly robbed of the MVP award by this guy. (Sidenote: Are you kidding me? If you showed me this picture and told me someone in it was the two-time reigning NBA MVP, I'd guess the skinny He-Man lookalike on the right first, the chubby fraternity guy on the left second, and then the mildly psychotic looking Nash third.) To put it another way, in the last year Kobe has went from being in the league's and media's doghouse to one of the league's most exciting and marketable players. I, on the other hand, have went from being a promising marketing undergraduate to living at home and writing a sports blog. Advantage: Kobe. But his meteoric rise from scorned to likable over the past year even has me rooting for Mamba and the Lakers in this year's playoffs. After nearly singlehandedly eliminating the Suns with a sensational 50-point performance on Thursday night, Kobe has one more chance to send the West's number two seed packing on Saturday night. And after the year he's had, I'll be the first to admit he deserves it.