As a Los Angeles resident and long time Laker hater, I have to admit that I've been enjoying their recent play. I detested the Shaq-Kobe Lakers that won three titles - is there anything more boring than watching Shaq play basketball? That combined with all the pseudo LA sports fans jumping on the bandwagon. (My former roommate's boss at a major Hollywood management company was from New Zealand, and upon being introduced to Kobe at a party said in his thick accent: "Love your game, Kobe.") Of course, this guy couldn't tell you how many games in an NBA season or how many minutes in a game.) Combine that with Kobe's arrogant personality and the boring as hell triangle offense, and there was nothing to like about the Lakers for a non-fan.
In any event, even though I was rooting for the Suns, I felt a lot of respect for Kobe's unselfish play, Lamar Odom stepping up big - (is there another player in the league this year that's made the transition from punk to professional as completely as Odom?), and good team play from Luke Walton, Smush Parker and even Kwame Brown. The team has a lot of heart - and Kobe and his teammates actually seem to like each other (though Kobe didn't need to kiss Smush Parker's ear quite so much for my taste).
It's looking a lot like Lakers-Clippers in Round 2, and that should be a really interesting series on a lot of levels. I'll still be pulling for the Clips - who I've liked since I got here eight years ago - but if the Lakers win, I might actually root for them against the big favorite from the San Antonio-Dallas series.