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NBL title first, legacy later for Wildcats' MVP Cotton

Four-time NBL MVP Bryce Cotton already ranks among the league's all-time greats but remains focused on adding more team success to his list of accolades.

Gary Clark of the Illawarra Hawks, Tom Abercrombie of the New Zealand Breakers, Bryce Cotton of the Perth Wildcats, Chris Goulding of Melbourne United, Jordon Crawford of Tasmania JackJumpers and Jaylen Adams of the Sydney Kings pose for photo during the NBL Finals Launch at John Cain Arena in Melbourne, Tuesday, Image AAP

Perth Wildcats superstar Bryce Cotton insists he won't consider his NBL legacy until after he retires as he sets his sights on steering the league's most successful club to another championship.

Cotton has already confirmed his status among the league's all-time greats by winning a fourth MVP award.

In doing so, he joined Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze as the only players to win the competition's highest individual honour more than three times.

Four-time NBL MVP Bryce Cotton is desperate to add more team success to his list of accolades.

The 31-year-old American guard, who has given up hope of representing Australia because of a drawn-out citizenship saga, has also won seven NBL scoring titles and been an integral figure in three championship teams during his eight seasons in Perth.

But his focus is on the upcoming 2024 finals series, with the second-seeded Wildcats waiting to learn the identity of their last-four opponent.

"I like to stay in the moment because I understand that basketball is not a game that any of us get to play forever," Cotton said at the NBL finals launch in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"While I've got the chance I'll just try to make it as memorable as I can, but I'll look back at it when I'm done playing."

Cotton's fourth MVP award separated him from Brisbane Bullets legend Leroy Loggins (three) as the league's most decorated import.

He won it the hard way, fighting through a tough "learning curve" early in the season before rekindling his devastating best when it mattered.

Cotton averaged just 14.4 points on 29 per cent shooting as Perth staggered to a 2-5 start.

The turnaround was dramatic, as Cotton averaged 26.6 points on 43 per cent shooting through a 13-2 run that set up the Wildcats for a top-two finish on the ladder.

"It was definitely a learning curve for me," Cotton said.

"I've never really had a slump like that before in my career, so I just had to rely on the work that I've put in and hope that it was eventually going to turn around.

"The big thing for me was JR (coach John Rillie) and my teammates.

They kept supporting me and letting me know they backed me, so that went a long way with me.

"Luckily, just as I was turning it around, more importantly we did it as a team as well. It was, I guess, the perfect storm brewing."

Cotton sat out Perth's final regular-season game against the Tasmania JackJumpers as a precaution because of a minor knee injury but is certain to return for the finals.

The Wildcats and top-seeded Melbourne United have a three-week break before their respective playoff series because of the FIBA international window and revamped NBL Play-In Tournament.

"It's finding that happy medium and making sure you take care of your body," Cotton said.

"You don't want to be too lazy but at the same time you don't want to overwork yourself either."


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