Los Angeles Lakers Fans Should Thank Pat Riley

There is nothing in the world that gets Kobe Bryant more excited than a challenge. The guy just loves the thrill of the battle, and anyone who doubts him or his team. This year will be filled with adversity, and there are already plenty of doubters.

When Pat Riley set out to sign his trio of stars, he knew what he was doing. But, I don't think he ever considered that he was doing the Lakers a huge favor too. All of the media, bloggers, and fans, have jumped on the Miami bandwagon, which is a slap in the face of the champs. That's just the thing to keep the league's best player hungry and his team hungry as well.

Never in the history of the NBA, has the reigning back-to-back champions, not been the favorite to win it all. That is just crazy. Even when Shaq joined the Lakers back in 1996, with all-star Eddie Jones, nobody was saying they would beat the Bulls. It just wasn't realistic to say something crazy like that, and Shaq was the most dominant player in the league at the time.

When the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in 2008, it drove Kobe to a new level of intensity.  Pau Gasol hit the weight room, and got physically and mentally stronger. The Lakers came back from that embarrassing loss and manhandled the league to win the championship in 2009. Kobe went on to win the Finals MVP.

After the 2009 championship, there were still doubters who still claimed they were soft. The season was filled with injury, but the Lakers managed to get the best record in the West.

When the playoffs started, every article you read said Kobe was old, and couldn't be the player that he used to be. Kobe took all of the negativity personally; he got the knee drained and went on streak the NBA hasn't seen since MJ was collecting rings. His grit and will was contagious. Andrew Bynum fought through injury to help the Lakers get back to the Finals, to avenge their 2008 Finals loss ...

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