And yet Bryant maintained during an hourlong interview on NBA TV that he is not deterred about his playing future with the Lakers, saying he views his latest setback as a chance for a career “rebirth” like that of the seemingly ageless defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
Of course there is also the little – or big – matter of Bryant making $25 million next season too.
During the interview set to air Monday at 6 p.m. PST called “Kobe: The Interview,” Bryant talked about how his rehabilitation is going from season-ending surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and how he hopes to be ready for the Lakers’ training camp that will be held in Hawaii in September.
“I can’t say it is the end,” Bryant said on NBA TV. “I thought the Spurs were done 20 years ago. Those guys are still winning. So, to answer the question, I can’t say this is the end of my era because I thought their [era] was done and they’re still there. So I’m hoping I can have the same rebirth.”
It’ll have to start with Bryant, who’ll be 37 in August and will be entering his 20th season in the NBA, getting his body to stay healthy.
He tore his Achilles tendon in April of 2013, forcing him to miss the final two regular-season games and the playoffs.
He returned for the 2013-14 season, but Bryant was forced to shut it down because of a fractured left knee.
Bryant played in just six games that season and in just 35 games this season, averaging 22.3 points per game on a career-low 37.3% shooting, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
Bryant said he is driven to return from his latest injury to prove to himself that he can play again.
“I don’t know if I can,” Bryant told the network. “I want to find out. I want to see.
“What I’m going to do is what I always do. I’m going to break everything down to its smallest detail and go after it day by day. Just one day at a time.”