Raise your hand if you think the Lakers can win the NBA title this season...

Oh, heyyyy, Metta World Peace. What up, Matt Barnes?! How goes it, Young Bynum? You good, Pau?

Point being: No one outside of the Lakers locker room thinks the team has a shot at winning the 'chip this season. With Kevin Durant and the Thunder sitting atop the Western Conference and Tim Duncan and the Spurs surprising a lot of people right behind them, the thought this season is that the Lakers have no chance of making a deep playoff run, let alone a run to the NBA Finals. But yesterday, Kobe Bryant came out and said that he not only believes the Lakers can win the title this year—he also said that he's surprised that more people out there aren't picking them to win it. Especially when you consider the guys that they've got in the locker room.

"We are a championship-caliber team," he said. "I've never understood the talk about us not being a contender. I've never understood it from the start of the season until now. You have myself, you have Andrew [Bynum], and you have Pau. Who has three players like that on one roster? And then you have Metta [World Peace] and you have [Matt] Barnes...So I hear all this talk and all these conversations and here we are two games out of the second seed in the Western Conference despite our struggles on the road and with the new coaching staff and the new system and new personnel. I always believed we were contenders but we just had to be quiet about it."

Hmmm...Should we be taking the Lakers more seriously? Maybe. Out West, the Spurs are old. The Mavericks are worn down. And even the Thunder are yet to get over the hump. And, as long as Kobe's arm doesn't fall off from all the shots he's been taking this season, we'll at least give the Lakers a chance. But we still just don't see it happening. Sorry, Kobe.

[via ESPN Los Angeles]

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