Kobe Bryant played well enough Sunday to not get amnestied.
But beat the Spurs in a best-of-7 series? He and the Lakers aren’t there yet. They need at least six more weeks of practice and sweat to be able to do that.
Which is about when the playoffs begin.
A few things need to fall into place before another Spurs-Lakers playoff series can happen. The key prerequisite is that the Lakers have to quit playing for ninth place.
That’s what Sunday’s showdown with the Mavericks was about. Just two years ago, these teams met in the conference semis, with the Mavericks on the way to their title. If the season ended today, they would both play the lottery.
That didn’t stop ABC from showing up. And if it seemed to be the usual big-market hype, there was plenty to sell.
Mark Cuban helped that along. “If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight (Howard) comes back,” he said on the radio last week, “you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?”
For those not familiar with NBA language, Cuban was asking if the Lakers should cut Bryant.
In the fourth quarter, with Bryant on his way to 38 points, what Cuban said to the refs summed up his thinking on the whole amnesty affair.
“THAT’S HORRIBLE!” he screamed.
Afterward, Bryant had his own response. He tweeted: “Amnesty THAT.”
Bryant added some pregame sizzle, too, in an interview with Sports Illustrated. Then, he guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs.
Steve Nash had the best response. “Yeah, I guarantee it, too,” he said, smiling, seeing how little effort a guarantee took.
But Bryant went on in the interview to say more. “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs,” he said. “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.”
Lakers take a step toward the Spurs
San Antonio Express-News | Feb 25