There's no question that the Lakers have some lofty goals in mind for this season, and nothing short of winning the NBA championship will be considered a success. Last season's squad -- one that played the bulk of their games with Andrew Bynum on the sidelines -- finished the year as the top team in the Western Conference, and fell just short of winning the title to the more physical Boston Celtics. So naturally, with Bynum in the mix (and looking strong early), finishing the season hoisting the championship trophy seems to be in the team's sights. But unless they go through Boston to do so, it may be just a little less gratifying.
"Of course, [I want Boston]," Bryant said. "If you see a guy that you fought at lunchtime and he knocked you out, oh, I'm coming back the next day. I don't want the little 4-foot guy. I want the big football player, that's what I want."
He's not the only one. Lamar Odom wants a piece of the Celtics, too.
"You always want to play against the team you lost to. They're a heck of a team. I would love to play against Boston, personally."
Like the Lakers, the Celtics will look a little bit different heading into the season, but not necessarily for the better. They lost key defender and clutch three-point shooter James Posey to the New Orleans Hornets in free agency, which will definitely impact the team's production off the bench. But even with Posey purged from Boston and Bynum back for L.A., there's no guarantee the Lakers would beat Boston in a rematch.
The Celtics are still built around the reigning defensive player of the year in Kevin Garnett, along with Finals MVP Paul Pierce and lights-out shooter Ray Allen. Their roster of big men (besides Garnett) will still be intimidating, with the likes of Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe roaming the lane. And when it mattered most, the Celtics' defense was nearly impenetrable: remember that Game 4 comeback at Staples Center that the Celtics orchestrated from a 24-point third quarter deficit? That took a lot of defensive stops, and the Celtics were able to get as many as they needed.
So while the Lakers seem to be stronger this season and as motivated as ever to get back to the Finals, dreaming about a rematch with Boston might not be the wisest way to go about it. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for ... you just might get it.