|(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
Kobe and the Lakers are playing with a chip on their shoulder this season. Everyone
said there time was done, but Kobe thinks they are starting it all over again.
There's a reason Spike Lee made a documentary by this title two years ago. There's a reason Lil Wayne wrote a rap "Kobe Bryant" to respond to Drake's "Forever" which is all about LeBron James. There's a reason he's been on the cover of seven video games. There's a reason he has endorsements with Nike, McDonalds, Sprite, and Spalding.
Besides Michael Jordan, there hasn't been a more dominant, post-merger guard than Kobe Bryant. LeBron James has yet to prove himself as the next "It Factor" with his recent late-game collapses and ring-less fingers. Kobe continues to prove himself as an "It Factor" in his 16th year in the league.
Coming into the season, the Lakers weren't supposed to be the talk of Los Angeles and Kobe wasn't supposed to be the face of city. It was all about the Clippers, Blake Griffin, and recently acquired guard Chris Paul. Even worse, what about his wrist with torn ligaments all over?
And if that wasn't enough negativity already, he was heading into the season after his wife of 10 years divorced him.
This was good news for Kobe though, he was single and ready to mingle with opposing defenses.
The perennial all-star is coming off three, 40-point performances, all which have been won by the red hot Lakers. Even better, Bryant leads the league in scoring, while the Lakers lead the Pacific Division. Only the Oklahoma City Thunder have a better record than the Lakers out West.
Critics have been all over Kobe, saying he shoots too much, but yet his shooting percentage is above his career average. So are his assists and rebounds per game. All around Kobe is making himself and his team better.
Maybe it's his surgery in Germany, maybe it was his viciousness to prove everyone wrong again.
Yes, Andrew Bynum's return was huge for the Lakers, but the whole team is feeding off of Kobe's hard work. The Lakers have won five straight games in which Kobe has averaged 39 points per game. His shooting percentage in those five games? 49.6%
Not only is Kobe hitting the big shots, but he is getting to the line more than he used to. Over the past few years, Kobe has developed a lethal turnaround fade away jumper, but this year it's all about taking it to the basket. Not a bad idea when your shooting over 80% from the charity stripe.
Who were the preseason favorites to win MVP?
Kevin Durant headlined that list along with Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard. On ESPN.com's preseason predictions, not one person picked Kobe to win MVP. Durant hasn't struggled this season, but Russell Westbrook is stealing some of his Thunder, pun intended. Dwight Howard is putting up monster numbers, but who knows where he will end up. The only player playing at the same level as Kobe, is Derrick Rose.
Who were the preseason favorites to win the Pacific Division? The West? The NBA Finals?
Let alone the Western Conference, the Lakers weren't even predicted to win their division. 17 NBA experts picked the Clippers on ESPN.com, while only 13 picked the Lakers to win. As for the Western Conference, the Thunder picked up 26/30 votes while the Lakers only got two. And to win the NBA Finals? 0.
Kobe is taking all this negative hype about him and his team, and throwing it right back at them. With the way and the Lakers are playing, they don't even need Dwight. They're chemistry is great, Coach Brown is letting them play their style, and Kobe is playing fearless.
The Lakers play the Clippers tonight, in the first regular season battle between the two teams. The Clippers swept the Lakers in the preseason, but I have a feeling Kobe will go off on Blake Griffin, and his almost-teammate Chris Paul.