Oh, it's on.
For Kobe Bryant, there is much to prove. He has been unable to lead his team to a championship win after Shaq left Hollywood and moved back to Florida. Even though there has been much talk about Bryant and his legacy on the line, he maintains that he's focused on only one thing—winning another championship for the championship's sake.
"It (enhancing his legacy) means nothing. To me, it's about winning another one, just because I want to win another one."
However, when talking to reporters, there seemed to be a bitterness to his comments.
"People think Shaq would have won a championship without me on that team," he said. "They're crazy."
Whatever Bryant's motivation is for playing hard in this year's NBA Finals, it's clear that he will be bringing his A-game. Even so, Bryant is still concerned about the prowess the Magic have displayed against the Lakers this year.
"They've beaten us three of the last four times," Bryant said. "So we're very, very concerned."
And they should be.
The Magic are no joke, and if you disagree with me, you obviously haven't been watching the playoffs.
Dwight Howard has the power to lead his team by a shining example, scoring 40 points with 14 rebounds in the victorious game six against the Cavaliers.
In addition, the Magic as a whole have been clutch in three point shot situations, making 62 three's against the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals and averaging 8.6 three pointers in the postseason as a whole.
Also, if you haven't realized already, Orlando has beaten three 60-win teams in this year's postseason.
Superman finds an advantage in his team being ruled as the underdog.
"We've always been overlooked," Howard said. "We were overlooked in the first series against Philly. We were overlooked against Boston. We were overlooked against the Cavs, and we're still overlooked.
"We don't want to be a team that everybody picks to win, because I think as a young team, once everybody starts saying, OK, you're this or you're that,' sometimes you tend to forget what got you there. Everybody picking against us motivates us. It drives us to do something greater."
Will the media's Kobe frenzy end up motivating the Magic to their first championship? My gut tells me yes. It doesn't matter to me what the sportswriters say about Kobe and his extreme skill. Sure, the Lakers have a good team, but I honestly believe they are no match for the Magic.
I'm not even worried.
Look at how far Orlando has gone without Jameer Nelson. People said the Magic were doomed without their star point guard, but that fate never panned out. Rafer Alston has been a great replacement for Nelson.
The question the media has been asking is how Nelson's expected play in the Finals will impact the Magic. I'm confident that if Nelson seems too rusty, Alston will get the job done. The great part about this Orlando team is that their bench is way deep. Van Gundy's unhappy with a player? Just put his backup in. No worries.
I leave you now with the anticipation of tonight's first game at the Staples Center. My prediction: Magic in six.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!