Last night I was invited to come out to Salt River High School and speak at the Senior Dinner.

Junior hanging out with students at Salt River High School.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)

A lot of the students have an opportunity to go to college, but are undecided if they want to. I just told them that it’s a great time in a person’s life. It’s similar to being 14, when you’re first going into high school and you think you know everything. But once you finish high school, you’re a totally different person. College is the same way.

I had the greatest time of my life in college. There was that pressure of being an adult, but I was fortunate to be able to still go to school and learn, and grow. You know, once you leave college and you get into the real world, it’s all about business, the plusses and minuses of whether you can cover your debt and make enough money to live comfortably. So I just encouraged them to take advantage of that opportunity that they have and to enjoy it.

It was real cool. I took pictures with just about everyone there and they all seemed to enjoy it. I love being able to use my celebrity to touch people and relate to them, because at the end of the day when I leave the arena, I go home, I get tired, I bleed, I cry and I get hungry just like everybody else.

Speaking of getting hungry, I can’t wait for the playoffs to begin. It looks like I’m going to be starting, so this is really going to be exciting for me. I’m taking it as a challenge to go in and have a great playoff run, and win a championship. I’ve never won a real championship in my life, at any level, and the NBA’s is the biggest championship in the world. So if I can help the team in any way reach that goal, I’m going to do it. I just have to be smart and play, make shots, make defensive plays, make the extra pass… just play basketball.

I think we’re ready. We won a lot of games this year, we enjoyed the streaks earlier in the season, but we want more. You know, if you’re on a team that never wins, you crave winning. But once you start winning, the number of wins you get doesn’t really matter. It’s all about winning the championship. I think this team has gotten to that plateau. We want to win a championship. So everyone is focused and everyone is ready. It’s a progression. I think we’ve progressed well, and I think we’re at that stage where we’re ready to take hold of this opportunity.

What are we expecting from the Lakers? Kobe. Kobe. Kobe. He’s the key and not just in scoring. Kobe’s a great player, an all-around player. You never know what you’re going to get with him. You don’t know if he’s going to facilitate or if he’s going to dominate, and that makes it interesting. But as a player, and as a team, we understand that they have two ways of playing, which is to play off of Kobe, or Kobe playing off of them. So we’ll see which style they bring.

Either way it will be a tough match-up, because they know us and we know them. We have that history and that rivalry. It’s like the old Celtics-Lakers series. They played each other every year and they knew the ins and outs of each other, and yet still every game was a great game. I think we’re going to see the same thing in this series.

Strap your seatbelts on, fans, and enjoy the ride. This is going to be fun.

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