Kobe Bryant Is Waiting To Exhale

rachelCorrespondent IJune 7, 2009

BOSTON - NOVEMBER 23:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers heads for the basket as Kendrick Perkins #43 and Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics defend at the TD Banknorth Garden November 23, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 107-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There is no way Kobe Bryant will lose this championship. Kobe Bryant knows that this is probably his last chance to win a championship without Shaq. Kobe is tired of answering the question, "can you win a championship without Shaq?" 

He has been trying to keep his cool answering whether his legacy hinges on a championship without Shaq. But we can all see he is raging on the inside. 

He reluctantly went along with the Kobe-LeBron hype. Believe it or not Kobe doesn't care what LeBron James is doing. Kobe wants to win another championship. He wants to do it without Shaq. 

Kobe doesn't want his legacy left in the hands of all the Kobe haters. Winning this championship will stop all the questions about can he win without Shaq, who's better LeBron or Kobe, and all the questions about his legacy. 

Sometimes winning a championship when you're so young makes you believe that you will always win. Kobe found out the hard way how difficult it is to win a championship. There are a lot of moving parts that go into winning a championship. 

Just ask Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley or Karl Malone.

Even Michael Jordan learned that he needed his teammates. Being a great player is not all it takes to winning a championship. Kobe's approach of bashing his teammates didn't work and it didn't win him any friends either. 

So Kobe is a man on a mission. He has convinced his teammates that they matter and that's the only way they will win. Kobe has put his teammates on notice that it is now or never.

If you listen to his teammates after game one of the finals they sound like they are all playing for Kobe. What winning a championship means to them is an afterthought. Kobe has been honest with his teammates; he has told them that he wants to win more than anything and he needs them to do it.

This time Kobe Bryant will not be condescending toward his teammates. He is keeping them focused and making sure they know when we have the Orlando Magic down keep your foot on their throats. Don't let them up!

Kobe Bryant will not let Lamar Odom fade this time. He will not allow Pau Gasol to be pushed around.  Kobe knows this time it's about positive reinforcement. Kobe will play within the triangle offense as long as it is working. But any little slip ups and he will abandon ship and takeover until his teammates fall back in line. 

Kobe will not back away like he did in last year's finals.  He is playing like a man possessed. The focus and concentration that Kobe is exhibiting is scary.  The look on his face says it all. 

If Kobe doesn't win he will be inconsolable on the inside.  He will suffer his biggest disappointment ever in basketball. He will try to hide it from us but we all know how desperately he wants to win without Shaq. 

He will not be able to hide it from us.  He will attend all the press conferences, he'll answer all the questions but he will be deeply wounded.

But that's not going to happen, Kobe will win and Kobe will finally be able to exhale.