Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

Years before Pau Gasol breathed life back into the Lakers organization, Derek Fisher cemented his crunch-time legacy and Kobe surged into the GOAT conversation… they were there.

Pinched between generational periods of Boston sport-hate, disgust for the overconfident Denver Nuggets and the hushed arrogance of NBA poster boy Kobe East (Lebron James)… they were there.

From dunk-on-you Kobe to step-back jumper Kobe; young-Phil to aged-Phil and all the championship parades in-between… the San Antonio Spurs have always been there, methodically providing the Lakers with a legitimate rival – one who has been able to do something that none of the Lakers’ pretend western conference challengers have…

Beat a championship caliber Lakers’ team when it matters. (’99, ’03)

The San Antonio Spurs have always given me that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach – you know, the one Kendrick Perkins feels when he accidentally glances at a mirror.

With so many culprits, it’s really hard to lay blame on any one individual…

There’s always been Greg Popovich and his under-the-table marketing deal with the Freddy Kruger franchise… And you can’t forget the years of Bruce Bowen jump-kicks, flagrant hacks and dirty questionable play that almost always swindled NBA referees… Of course you have to mention Manu Ginobili’s inclination to make a non-foul appear as though he took a sniper bullet in the chest from a fan in the upper deck.

You’re right. I’m rambling. If it’s any consolation, I suddenly feel better.

In a sentence, I greatly dislike the San Antonio Spurs for an array of stupid reasons – and despite their deceptively low seeding (#7 by ½ a game as I type this), a likely first round matchup with our decade-old rivals is as threatening to the Lakers championship aspirations as it has ever been.

As we all know, the Lakers aren’t exactly Kate Beckinsale right now – and in all my years as a Lakers fan, I can’t remember a less-celebratory end to a regular season that concluded with us sitting on top of the western conference. Our bench has been consistent… ly awful. Andrew Bynum, for the third time in as many years, is dealing with a significant injury at the wrong time of the season. Derek Fisher hasn’t kept an opposing point guard in front of him all season.

The Lakers are building momentum for the postseason… only in the wrong direction. The Spurs, well…

For those of you keeping score at home, the men in black have five wins… in five weeks… against the five best teams in the NBA (Lakers, Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Denver). Spin it however you want, there’s no refuting that they are well equipped to give all of us here at the Lakers Nation a harsh lesson in reality.

Greg Popovich is undeniably the most prepared coach in the NBA to face-off against a Phil Jackson coached team.

Tony Parker – who is probable for the playoffs – will certainly give Fish, Shannon and Jordan fits with his quickness and penetration. If George Hill returns to action, even worse.

If I didn’t know any better (which I don’t), I would guess that Manu Ginobili is hiding a Delorian in the locker room – not to mention that he just dropped 32 points on Ron… last week… in a 19-point win… at Staples Center.

As always, it would be foolish to overlook the Big Fundamental, who notched his 35th double-double of the season (24/11/4) last week against the Bynum-less front line of the Lakers.

That Kendrick Perkins feeling in my stomach is back again…

You can make the argument that the Spurs are the next-best team in the western conference – only disguised as a possible #8 seed. A first round date with San Antonio can likely be avoided by taking care of business in a few hours against the Blazers. Phil and Kobe positively know this, and I think the Lakers will come out and punch Portland in the mouth.

If they don’t, well…

We could see history repeat itself, once again pairing a championship caliber Lakers’ squad against the team best equipped to trip them up on their road to the NBA Finals. It would be appropriate, considering that during the Kobe Bryant era, the Spurs have always been lurking… scheming… waiting for an opportunity to inject a dose of kryptonite into plans for another ring ceremony at Staples Center.

The Lakers have never lost a first round series as a #1 seed (10-0); but if there’s one thing we have learned about the San Antonio Spurs…

They have very little regard for Lakers’ history.