In an interview with ESPN.com, Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant was asked if he feels the San Antonio Spurs were still capable of their great play so far this season despite new faces to the team and an aging Tim Duncan:
"Of course … of course. Why wouldn't I? The last couple of years they've had to deal with injuries all year long. But now they're healthy. Tim looks great. They have incredible coaching. All those guys know their roles. There's no question about them. … They've been this way for a decade. Fans continue to be surprised, but they're not sneaking up on us."
Bryant on playing the Spurs:
San Antonio directly blocked the Lakers' path to the championship more than once -- yet, as Kobe said, it's not as contentious. "It's not mean," he said. "It's not nasty. Even when they're playing you, they're nice guys. Even when Tim knocks you on the floor, he'll help you up. He'll continue to kick your butt, but … they play the game. They don't play that mean.
Nice to hear Bryant paying respect to the Spurs and rightfully so. The Lakers were touted as the team to beat in the Western Conference heading into the new season but it has been the Spurs who been playing fantastic and sit atop the NBA with the best record at 19-3. The Lakers on the other hand have been faltering, went on a four game losing streak, and lost to the Chicago Bulls recently.
Granted the road to the NBA Finals does go through Los Angeles and the Lakers are still a solid squad with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Bryant but the Spurs will confidently face that road knowing they will be more than just another team to prevent a Lakers three-peat -- they might actually be a serious threat.