New PodKast: Kobe's rant, Bynum's return, the west's best

Happy 2011, Land O' Lakers community! 2010 treated the K Bros kindly on several counts, not the least of which was the Larry O'Brien remaining in L.A. What lies ahead in the new year? We take a look ahead, along with an eye on the recent past. Among the talking points:

- We discuss Kobe Bryant's icy press conference after the disastrous showing against Miami. His concerns may have been justified -- the lack of urgency has been blatantly obvious -- but we weren't wild about teammates called out with such a "they're the problem, not me" vibe. The approach risks alienating teammates, and as you can see, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom didn't appear thrilled. (Frankly, it didn't spark the best out of Bryant himself against San Antonio.)

It's not a huge deal, but we were a little surprised, as we've been generally impressed by Kobe's evolution as a leader.

- There was a team meeting, however, before the game in New Orleans universally credited as a positive experience. This meeting of the minds, combined with Andrew Bynum's return to the starting lineup, coincided with a whupping of the Hornets. Along with Friday's win, a nice trend is in the works, but how long do we think it'll realistically take for the Lakers to get back on track?

- The Lakers are now looking up at teams in the Western Conference for the first time in a few years. How big a threat are the upper echelon teams honing in on the defending champs' turf? We offer our takes on the Spurs, Mavericks, Jazz, and Thunder.