PHOENIX — Throughout his career, Kobe Bryant never has been one to forget a slight, a doubter or an opponent who has defeated him and his Lakers.
Now that Bryant and the Lakers are about to face the Celtics in the NBA Finals, the same Boston team that defeated Los Angeles in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals by an embarrassing 39 points to win the championship, he didn't make this out to be about revenge.
The Lakers had just defeated the Suns 111-103 Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals in six games, and Bryant was saying he "didn't give a damn" whom the Lakers played in the Finals.
Bryant had just scored 37 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, and he was insisting playing the Celtics for the championship was not about revenge. Game 1 is Thursday at the Staples Center.
"The challenge is to win the championship," Bryant said. "The Celtics are in the way. They feel the same way about us.
"It's a sexy matchup. We're looking forward to this challenge. … When the ball goes up, we'll be ready to go."
The Lakers won the championship last season, defeating the Magic in five games. This will be L.A.'s third consecutive trip to the Finals, the 31st in franchise history. They've won 15 titles.
The Celtics are going to the Finals for the 21st time. They have won 17 championships.
The teams have met in the Finals 11 times, with the Celtics winning nine.