The Los Angeles Lakers have just accomplished something for the first time this season: reach two games above the .500 mark, at 33-31.
As of this post, the Lakers are in sole possession of the 8th and final playoff spot in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Things in Lakerland have been coming together these past few weeks, and Laker Nation is beginning to buzz.
All of the national attention has been on LeBron James and his "historic" run of efficiency and masterful shooting percentages. But all the while, Kobe has been lurking in the weeds, waiting to steal the national spotlight from the self-monikered King.
Kobe proclaimed that the Lakers would make the playoffs when the team was a paltry 26-29 on the season. The Lakers held the 9th seed in the conference, but trailed the Houston Rockets by 3.5 games for the final spot at the dance.
Since Kobe made his assertion to the world that these Lakers would eventually turn it around, the purple and gold have been on quite a streak. They have gone 6-2, and are also on a 16-6 roll in their last 22 games. They seem to finally be establishing chemistry on the floor and are playing a more fluid and cohesive style of basketball.
Now that the Lakers are officially the owners of the last playoff spot out west, the Lakers must continue to stick to the formula that has led them to a more healthy place psychologically, and essentially, into the post season.
The formula is quite simple. Kobe Bryant is the alpha male, give him the ball. Meaning, the two-time MVP, Steve Nash, and arguably the best big man in the game, Dwight Howard, have fallen in line behind the five-time champion and have since been playing a winning brand of basketball.
Since Kobe is the unquestionable leader of the Lakers, he is able to actually "lead" the way.
At first, all of the moving parts were trying to find some sort of symmetry on the floor, but the health concerns of Nash, Dwight and Pau led to a non desirable start to the regular season.
After Dwight Howard realized that it was not in his best interest to demand the bright lights that shined on Kobe, he was able to let Bryant lead him to the "promised land." The Lakers will not go anywhere unless Kobe is playing the best basketball of his career, which he is.
So the formula is really quite simple. Give the ball to Kobe and let him make the right play.
Time after time, Kobe has turned back the clock and showed us what a true superstar is capable of.
In back to back wins against the Hornets and the Raptors Kobe has averaged 41.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 12 assists per those two games. In both games, the Lakers trailed by 15 points, so every point, or assist was crucial to Lakers win.
Kobe became the oldest player in NBA history to have back-to-back 40 point, 10 assist games.
In the past nine games, Kobe is averaging 34.1 PPG, 7.1 assists, 6.6 rebounds. Truly historical numbers.
On Sunday's win over the Bulls, Kobe registered 19 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. But the entire Laker team played at an extremely high level. Six Lakers scored in double figures.
Dwight Howard had an exceptional game with 16 points, 21 rebounds and 4 blocks. He showed what type of player he can be as the second or even third leading man. It was a performance every Laker fan could become giddy after witnessing.
But Kobe is leading this team. This is his time, still.
Remember, Kobe won back to back titles before 2011.
Now he is paired with three hall of famers and the greatest shooter he has ever played with, in Steve Nash.
Nash will be able to open up so many more opportunities for Kobe come playoff time, and Kobe will do the same for Nash.
Nash has become a lethal second scorer and shooter for the Lakers. He is letting Kobe aid to his table setting duties while he illustrates why he is considered the greatest shooter in NBA history.
This team was built for the playoffs.
With a big man in the middle in Dwight, a top five point guard in Nash, and arguably the best player to ever play the game, in Kobe, this team could be poised for a postseason run.
Now the pressure is off the Lakers' shoulders, and once the postseason comes along, no one will be looking forward to playing Kobe Bryant and his Lakers.
Everyone is 0-0.
But the Lakers may be one of the hottest teams come April 17th, and we may be singing a different tune about Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers team.
If Kobe has anything to say about this, could ring number six be within arms reach?