Ronnie Brewer's difficult assignment to guard Kobe Bryant became even more of an unenviable task Wednesday.
Before Brewer could chase Bryant around the triangle offense in Game2, he and his Utah Jazz teammates had to stand near one end of the court and watch Bryant hoist the MVP Trophy with a paparazzi-like horde of photographers snapping away at every smile, nod and gesture.
They watched as Staples Center rocked to chants of "MVP! MVP!"
They watched as Bryant quickly motioned his teammates to join him in the love-fest at center court. They watched and waited.
And that already tough assignment was more arduous. Brewer was hoping to treat it like any other game.
"You've got to be focused to play him every night," Brewer said before the game. "If not, he'll score 91 points. You've got to be ready every play to make him work. He's a talented player, so he's going to get his points."
He did. Bryant hit three of his first four shots. He's the key for any opponent in any game in any series.
Bryant hit a 3-pointer over Brewer to make the score 22-13 in the first quarter. Bryant made 21 of 23 free throws in Game 1, and Andrei Kirilenko had a simple answer for the fouling problem: "stop fouling."
Easier said than done, since Bryant is difficult to guard.
Bryant winning the MVP award was about time as far as Brewer is concerned.
"This is only my second year (in the NBA)," Brewer said.
"Growing up I watched him. It's kind of a shame he hadn't won it (before). To me, he's been the best player the last couple of years that I remember.
"I think it's kind of changed the meaning of what the award is.
"The last couple of years or four years maybe, it's been more about how the team does and how well the best player on the team does. If somebody gets a lot of points and their team is winning, they're probably the top candidate. If their team isn't as successful, they might not be a top candidate. He's definitely deserving of winning it. He's respected by everyone in the league."