The San Antonio Spurs own the best record in the NBA, sit atop the Western Conference, have a legit MVP candidate (Tony Parker) and are looking like a well-oiled machine that will once again be challenging for the NBA crown.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been struggling all season. Dwight Howard isn't meshing with the team, is dealing with injuries and struggling to produce consistently. The team went through a coaching change early in the season, and currently are out of the playoff hunt in the West.
Needless to say, these two team are heading in opposite directions but do not tell that to Lakers' Kobe Bryant.
Always brimming with confidence, in an interview with SI.com, Bryant made it clear -- the Lakers will make the playoffs and says he does not fear the mighty Spurs despite his team's 0-2 record versus the Spurs this regular season.
Bryant: It's not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone -- Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver ... whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.
At first blush, Spurs fans may scoff at Bryant's comment, add this comment to the pile of reasons they love to hate him, point to the better team this regular season and basically, laugh in Kobe's face. However, as a leader, what do you expect Bryant to say? Do you really think he'll admit his team is inferior to the Spurs? That the Lakers fear an opponent they might face should they make the playoffs? No. He has to send a message to his team to let them know they should not fear any team should they make the playoffs.
If the leader is fearless, then the rest of the team should be fearless.
Imagine if Tim Duncan and the Spurs were struggling and were just outside of making the playoffs. As Spurs fans, you would want to hear Duncan rallying the troops, and exclaiming he fears no team despite team struggles.
That's what a leader does and that is what Kobe is doing here.
However, Bryant's comment did give the Spurs a heaping scoop of locker room material. If I am the Spurs, I am reading this comment when they face Kobe and the Lakers in their next regular season matchup and especially in the playoffs should they draw Los Angeles.
Nonetheless, Bryant may be saying he doesn't fear the Spurs but first thing is first, the Lakers have to make the playoffs.