LA Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol: NBA’s Best 1-2 Punch Has 3-Peat in Sight

This Los Angeles Lakers team isn't as good as the squad that won it all last season.

They're much, much better.

And while many have pointed to the improved bench and the increased efforts from Lamar Odom as prime reasons for success, the elevated play of the team's two superstars, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, have really been fueling the charge thus far.

There was an extraordinary amount of conversation throughout the offseason talking about Kobe finally beginning to look "old". His shot was off, he couldn't get his timing right after offseason knee surgery and he didn't seem to have the same fire that he possessed for so many years.

And then the season got underway.

Talks of Bryant beginning to weaken aren't just premature, they're downright dumb. If the Lakers go on to enjoy the same success they have over the last two seasons, Bryant's sixth ring will place him the closest he's ever been to the incomparable legend of Michael Jordan. 

Perhaps the reason Bryant continues to be disrespected by fans league wide is because it's so much easier to discredit someone. If Kobe's play had fallen off, then that's a logical basis for the argument, but it hasn't. Had he and his team lost Game 7 of the Finals last season against the Celtics, there would've been clamor for him to step up his game, but he didn't.

Most importantly, if Bryant's Lakers weren't far and away the best team in the conference, that would provide just enough to question if his age is catching up with him, but they are. 

While some continue to miscast the Black Mamba as selfish, it's simply not accurate.

The definition of a facilitator, Bryant looks to get his teammates involved first before getting his own game going. Additionally, he is a teacher on the floor, and it's like having an assistant coach on the hardwood who is also the team's best player.

Hardly a one-trick pony, reg...

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