Kobe Bryant: Why the Western Conference Needs to Fear Him During Playoffs

Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers might not have the top seed in the Western Conference for these 2011 playoffs and may have stumbled in Game 1 of the first round, but they are still the team to be reckoned with as the NBA’s second season begins.

Most importantly, Kobe Bryant needs to be feared by Western Conference rivals.

That might not seem the case with the Lakers’ play in April or with the at-home loss to the New Orleans Hornets Sunday, but the Lakers, and more specifically, Kobe Bryant, possess the traits to make the three-peat run. 

If you flash back to the start of last season’s playoffs, the same buzz surrounded the Lakers. They stumbled their way to the finish line and looked extremely vulnerable. Isn’t that the exact words we’re hearing now?

But here’s the key difference: Kobe is not only hungry, he’s healthy. 

Last year, Kobe’s body was a wreck. He had a serious knee injury and chronic and recurring finger injuries that plagued him throughout last season and really slowed him down. 

He recently spoke about the difference between this year and last.

“I knew I needed surgery on my knee at the end of the year,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “So it was like sort of putting Band-Aids on it until June trying to get through with it. Now I feel completely healthy.”

Kobe’s legendary work ethic and burning desire is without question in today’s NBA and puts him in that stratosphere of players who can literally will their team to victory.

But while Kobe might perform super-human feats on the court, he still bleeds red and can be limited by injury like everyone else. It is not the hunger that will separate him and make him the most dangerous player in this year’s playoffs, but his health.

Kobe went on to say, “I’ll be stronger, have ...

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