After a series of epic battles over the past decade, the Lakers fully understand how difficult it will be to knock off a Spurs team that they hold with the utmost respect.
For Kobe and Derek Fisher, just being mentioned in the same conversation as the Spurs is an accomplish in and of itself.
“We’ve had our battles,” said Bryant. “We’ve had some pretty classic confrontations, the last of which being Derek’s miraculous shot. We’ve had some great matchups. It feels good to be back at this level, matching up with the San Antonio’s.”
Fisher added, “I think it lets you know often times how close you are and the opportunity that you have. When you play against the Spurs in the playoffs, for the most part, you’re doing something right. These guys have established themselves as the consistency, the power in our league, the team that has shown the ability to over a 10-year period to duplicate success, to replicate what they do out there on the court.”
While Kobe and Fisher were starters on Lakers title teams in the past that went through the Spurs, the rest of the current roster has yet to face San Antonio in a playoff situation.
“For me, personally, I think at some point, it all starts to run together and unless you win a championship, nothing’s really different,” said Derek. “So, this opportunity here in terms of my feelings about is more so for the rest of our guys who haven’t experienced it before. That’s why I want it to bad; I want them to experience what I’ve experienced before and once they get that same taste, we can be on the same page even more.”
However, if L.A.’s veterans want to share their past successes with this current version of the Lakers, they’ll need to play with a killer instinct.
“You’ve got to beat them,” said Bryant. “They’re so seasoned, they aren’t going to beat themselves. They play extremely solid, they stay within themselves. We just have to be patient when we go up against them and see if we can’t knock them out.”