Just a couple of weeks ago as the Lakers were getting an early test from the Thunder, all the regular pundits were pronouncing Kobe Bryant's reign as the best player in the world over - saying he had lost a step and that his best days were well in the rear view mirror.
Flash Forward 20 days and the newly awarded (two-time) MVP, his royal highness LeBron James, failed to show up against the Celtics in critical games and his Cavs have gone fishing (or doing some creepy business with each others moms). At the same time Kobe's Lakers dominated the last couple against the Thunder and swept away the Jazz - earning themselves a much needed week of rehab.
Fresh off of resting his supposedly over-the-hill bones, Kobe put on a clinic in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals last night. He spent the first two quarters getting his teammates involved, helping 6th man Lamar Odom rack up 15 points before they hit halftime. Coming out of the locker room in the second half, Kobe switched it up and took over the game offensively, burying contested shots and getting to the line at will scoring 21 points in in the 3rd qtr and effectively stepping on the Suns throats and ending any chance they had of coming back.
Kobe's 40 points and the display of his full arsenal on the court in game 1 seemed to be a bit of a statement - his under-biting, growling message to the rest of the league that he isn't quite ready to give up the crown just yet.
If Project Franchise had an NBA squad that won the Lottery tonight and could pick anyone in the world, I think the easy money would still be in LBJ because of his youth and future potential - but if we were picking one player to build a team around for the next two weeks for a championship run, it would be pretty hard to pass on Kobe.