Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers: Don't Forget About Us

Kason GreenContributor IJanuary 16, 2012

Kobe Bryant has scored 40 points in three consecutive games and the Lakers have won 5 of 6
Kobe Bryant has scored 40 points in three consecutive games and the Lakers have won 5 of 6Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When the NBA regular season opened several weeks ago, predictions were abound that there might soon be a new basketball king in Los Angeles.

Fresh off acquiring Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers with Blake Griffin were the hot topic of the NBA. 

Along with teams such as Miami, Oklahoma City and Chicago, the Clippers were considered one of the teams to watch as the season progressed. 

Early on, it looked like this might be the case, as the Lakers got off to a slow start and the Clippers in "Lob City" were making SportsCenter highlight reels every night. 

But as of late, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant is doing his best Lee Corso impression of "not so fast, my friends."

I never believed that the Clippers could come out right away and be the best team in the NBA Pacific division. 

Sure, they have a lot of talent—Paul and Griffin are as exciting as it gets— but the Lakers are still loaded with playoff experience, and most importantly, Bryant.

No. 24 has scored 40 points in three consecutive games, a feat that shows Bryant does still indeed have "it." 

One of those games was a loss to the Clippers, but the Lakers were playing their third game in four nights, and the Clippers hadn't played in three days.

Plus, the Lakers had just won five in a row, so they were due for a loss regardless of what team they were playing.

The point is that I doubt the Lakers or Bryant have any problem being dubbed as washed-up, old and the second best team in Los Angeles. 

If there is anyone in the NBA you don't want to give extra motivation to, it's Bryant.

People want to refer back to their demise against the Mavericks last year as the reason why the Lakers are no longer contenders, but fail to realize that it was still LAST season, and the Mavericks were playing their best basketball of the Dirk Nowitzki era.

All in all, the Lakers are not done being competitors in the Western conference.  I fully expect them to make some noise in the playoffs.

The Clippers may end up winning the division because they are a younger team in a shortened season, but the Lakers know that that is not the important part.

Bryant looks to be getting back to full stride, and Andrew Bynum is playing excellent basketball early in the season.

Don't count out the Los Angeles Lakers, basketball fans.  Not yet, at least.