The Thunder have the best record in the Western Conference but that means little to Lakers executive Jim Buss. The team vice president spent 45 minutes with ESPN Radio hosts Steve Mason and John Ireland Friday talking about the team. Toward the end of the interview, he declared the Lakers the team to beat in the West.
“I think we’re the team to beat,” Buss said in response to a question from Ireland. “But now that Oklahoma has added a hell of a player maybe they are the team to beat.
“Truthfully, I believe we are the team to beat. I know if I was running any other franchise in the West I wouldn’t want to meet us in the playoffs.”
You might say that he’s in charge of the Lakers so naturally he’s going to be confident in his team. But remember that Jason Terry, who plays for the defending champion Mavericks, said in February the Thunder were the team to beat. Despite all the turmoil surrounding the Lakers which included complaints about coach Mike Brown; the failed Chris Paul trade; the Lamar Odom trade; and Pau Gasol trade rumors, Buss is confident he has a championship quality team. He says Kobe Bryant feels the same way.
The Lakers have played well lately but I wouldn’t call them the team to beat in the West. If it’s not the Thunder, then it’s the re-tooled defending champs.
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