Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant says he guarantees that the struggling Lakers will make the playoffs and be a force to be reckoned with once they secure a playoff spot.
“It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will,” Bryant said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that was published on Thursday. “And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone — Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver … whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.”
Bryant is highly confident despite the Lakers being in 10th spot in the Western Conference standings. The Lakers currently trail the Houston Rockets by 3½ games for the eighth spot. They are 26-29, but have won six of their last nine games, including a 113-99 victory over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night.
After losing to the Miami Heat earlier this month 107-97, which most believed at the beginning of the season would be a preview of the NBA Finals, Bryant used the loss as a confidence booster to resurrect what has been a horrendous season.
But Bryant acknowledged that the Lakers showed positive signs in their loss to the Heat.
“And part of the reason I have that confidence is the Miami game,” Bryant said. “We had control of the game. That was no fluke. We were playing very, very well. We were reading the defense, making the pass.”
Bryant quickly conceded that the Heat took control of the game due to the play of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.
“OK, they have two great players [James and Wade] who scored eight straight buckets and took control of the game,” Bryant said. “But we were right there. We can do it.”
Despite Bryant saying he guarantees making the playoffs, he admitted that it will take a team effort for them to reach the playoffs and make a deep run.
The Lakers will host the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night, hours after a private funeral will be held for former owner Jerry Buss, who died on Tuesday at the age of 80. They have a great opportunity to climb the standings as they begin an eight-game stretch in which five of their opponents have losing records.