Bryant believes Lakers can win it all

10:23 am | Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Kobe Bryant. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers may not be the force they were in winning back-to-back NBA titles in 2009 and 2010, but star Kobe Bryant says it would be a mistake to under-rate their playoff chances.

“I expect to win it, absolutely,” Bryant told an ESPN radio call-in show this week. “We’ve been shooting the ball extremely well, and our biggest key is our perimeter shooting, limiting our turnovers, and keeping the game at our pace. If we can do those things in the post-season, I like our chances.”

Seeded third in the Western Conference, behind a San Antonio side led by aging warrior Tim Duncan and the youthfully energetic Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers face Denver in the first round beginning on Sunday.

“Everybody’s a problem,” Bryant said of the path to the championship series in the West. “The Western Conference has been tough from top to bottom now for years. There are no easy matchups.

“You can’t look at one particular matchup and say, ‘OK, that’s going to be an easy series. That’s going to be a gimme series.’

“That just doesn’t happen in the Western Conference.”

The Lakers ended up in their familiar spot atop the Pacific Division for the fifth straight season, but their path to a seventh consecutive playoff appearance had its rough spots.

They began the lockout-shortened campaign adjusting to new coach Mike Brown, successor to legendary Phil Jackson, who guided Bryant and the Lakers to five NBA titles — in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.

Talented young center Andrew Bynum, already a two-time NBA champion, earned his first All-Star nod, but also displayed worrying bouts of lackluster play.

Veteran defensive presence Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, has six games remaining on his seven-game suspension for an ugly elbow to the head of the Thunder’s James Harden.

The Lakers brought in youth with a mid-season trade of point guard Derek Fisher for Ramon Sessions, but Sessions will be playing his first playoff series against Denver and finished the regular season nursing a shoulder injury.

If the Lakers do have a chance to go all the way, it will likely be due to Bryant, who remains one of the league’s most dangerous clutch performers.

“You always expect it,” Spain’s Pau Gasol said of Bryant’s penchant for late-game heroics. “You count on that.”

Bryant, 33, began the lockout-shortened season nursing a torn ligament in his right wrist sustained in an exhibition game.

He suffered a broken nose and concussion when he was hit in the face by Miami’s Dwyane Wade in the All-Star game in February, but didn’t miss a game until pain and inflammation in his left shin forced him to sit earlier this month.

Still, he’s in better shape than he was heading into the past two post-seasons, and vowed that no lingering injuries will halt him this time around.

“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do,” Bryant said. “I did it a few years ago (in the Lakers’ 2010 playoff series win over Oklahoma City) on one knee. Sometimes you’ve got to will it.”


Tags: Kobe Bryant , Los Angeles Lakers , NBA , playoffs , Sports

Related Stories:

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

Copyright 2012 INQUIRER.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate: c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94

PHOTOS & VIDEOS
Advertisement
POSCOUNTRYGOLDSILVERBRONZETOTAL
1United States462929104
2China38272388
3Great Britain29171965
4Russia24263282
5South Korea138728
6Germany11191444
7France11111234
8Italy891128
9Hungary84517
10Australia7161235

The Philippines is the first country to compete and win an Olympic medal among Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines participated in the Winter Olympics three times, in 1972 (Juan Cipriano and Ben Nanasca, alpine skiing), in 1988 (Raymund Ocampo, luge) and in 1992 (Michael Teruel, alpine skiing).

The Philippines will shoot for its first gold medal in six of the following events in the 2012 London Olympics: Athletics, BMX, Boxing, Cycling, Shooting and Swimming.

Harry Tañamor, the only Filipino predicted to win by the Sports Illustrated in its Olympic Preview edition, bows out in the first match up in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Philippines holds the record for winning the most medals without a gold haul with seven bronze and two silvers for a total of nine.

The Philippines last reached the final round swimming 80 years ago when Jikirum Adjaluddin and Teofilo Yldefonso ended up in the final six in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

Mary Antoinette Rivero's tie for fifth place in Taekwondo is the closest any Filipino athlete came to a medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Teofilo Yldefonso is the first Filipino to win a medal and the only one to take home multiple medals. He finished third both in the Men's 200 meter breastroke during the 1928 and 1932 Olympics.

1972 was the last year the Philippine men's basketball team, which then paraded William 'Bogs' Adornado, Danny Florencio and Yoyong Martirez among others in its line up, has qualified for the Olympics.

With only eight athletes in six sporting events for the London Games, this will be PH's smallest delegation since 1996.

Men's boxing has for medals in the Olympics with Anthony Villanueva, silver in the Featherweight Division of the 1964 Games in Tokyo; Leopoldo Serantes, third in 1988 Seoul; Roel Velasco, third in Barcelona; and his brother Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco, second in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Arianne Cerdena won a gold in bowling at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but Cerdena's gold was not included in the medal tally since bowling was considered only as a demonstration sport.

The men's Philippine Basketball team is the first country to ever score 100 or more points in the 1948 Olympics after clobbering Iraq,102-30.

The largest delegation the Philippines has ever sent to the Games was 53 in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The Philippine basketball team wound up fifth place—best finish for an Asian country in the Olympics to date—in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the first time basketball was played as an Olympic sport.

The Philippines has not won a medal since Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco settled for silver in boxing via a controversial decision during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The Philippines is the first nation in the tropics to ever participate in the Winter Olympic Games.

The Philippines has only won medals in three events since joining the Olympics in 1924.

Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, though not competing, carries the Philippine flag at the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

John Baylon, a nine-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, and Jerry Diño were the last Filipino Olympic qualifiers in the discipline Judo, having vied in the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Advertisement
Advertisement