The last two times the Lakers and Suns met in the postseason (2006 and 2007), things ended horribly for Kobe Bryant and his team. Despite having enjoyed tremendous success since then — largely due to his very public trade request, followed by seething demands for personnel change in L.A. — the mere thought of playing against Steve Nash and company in a Playoff series makes his blood boil.
Last night, after the Lakers completed their four-game sweep of Utah, things in the postgame press conference things went from jovial, to downright icy when a reporter asked Bryant if he’s looking forward to avenging himself against the Suns.
Yahoo! and NBA.com have the details:
The Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their third straight Western Conference finals by sweeping the Utah Jazz with a 111-96 victory on Monday night. Next up are the Phoenix Suns, who the Lakers have beaten seven times in nine games since acquiring Pau Gasol. But that doesn’t matter to Bryant. When asked if he recalled that the Suns knocked the Lakers out of the postseason during their last two meetings in 2006 and ’07, Bryant’s eyes filled with disdain.
“What do you think? You already know,” Bryant said, staring through his questioner.
As Bryant moved off the of the podium and headed down a hallway to the Lakers’ team bus he was asked about the Suns again and used colorful language about the Lakers’ Pacific Division rivals … That’s why Bryant can’t wait to see the Suns again. He knows he’s showing up to the fight better prepared than he was before. When asked if he was still upset about those back-to-back playoff losses to the Suns, Bryant couldn’t hide behind his emotions behind his designed sunglasses if he’d tried. He’s still seething about it. “Just a little bit,” he said.
Despite whatever rage may be coursing through Kobe Bryant, his Lakers are the favorites heading into the series against Phoenix. Their size, depth and experience give them an undeniable advantage.
That being said, I don’t think the Suns can take comfort in any of the above. Starting next Monday night, Bryant will be out for blood, which spells trouble for the folks in the orange uniforms.