According to Kobe Bryant, whether or not the Lakers make the playoffs isn't even a concern.
Hoopsvibe's quick call: Kobe has often lacked a supporting cast, but he's never lacked confidence. On or off the court.
It's certainly been a busy season in Laker-land for Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum. Earlier this week, McCallum interviewed coach/player/legend Phil Jackson, who had a lot of interesting things to say about the game of basketball, the current situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his future in the NBA.
McCallum also spoke with Lakers star Kobe Bryant recently, who was adamant that the purple and gold will be a part of this season's playoff picture.
"It's not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will," Bryant told McCallum. "And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone -- Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver ... whoever. I have zero nervousness about that," Bryant admitted.
While I have definitely appreciated Kobe's confidence over the years and know that it has directly attributed to the greatness he's achieved, Kobe is just one guy; and the Lakeshow are going to need to play at the highest level as a team in the coming months if they expect to make the playoffs and compete for an NBA Title in a tough Western Conference.
And let's be honest, the Lakers have not been competing at the highest level this season. Their defense is lacking (it ranks 15th in the league in efficiency) and they've been struggling to find their identity in Coach D'Antoni's system. Not to mention they've been plagued all season with injuries and youth really isn't on their side.
Kobe, however, in his 17th NBA season, hasn't shown too many signs of aging. The Black Mamba is averaging 26.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game for the Lakers this year.
But again, Kobe is just one guy; and as amazing of a player as he's been, he's going to need help for the Lakers to go far in the playoffs.
Regardless, Bryant remains confident.
"We will make the playoffs," he said. "And we will compete. And part of the reason I have confidence is the Miami game. We had control of the game. That was no fluke. We were playing very, very well. We were reading the defense, making the extra pass."
Continuing to read defenses and make those extra passes (and the shots that ensue) will be imperative if they want to make up the current 3.5 game deficit they face on the Rockets for the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
On a side note, Kobe is set to make $30 million next year, making him the only player to reach that mark since Michael Jordan.
Jordan was always pretty confident himself. Coincidence? I think not.
But what do you Hoopsvibers think? Will the Lakers make the playoffs? Leave your comments below!
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