Kobe Bryant: I’d ‘run through a wall’ to prove Lakers made right call
WASHINGTON -- Kobe Bryant was all smiles during his news conference a day after receiving a two-year, $48.5-million contract extension.
Who can blame him?
Bryant acknowledged this was “probably” his last contract but became serious while defending the Lakers’ decision to give him the extension without even seeing him play a game this season.
“It makes me want to run through a wall for them,” he said Tuesday. “Kind of just adds more fuel to the fire. Prove to everybody that [the Lakers] are right and everybody else is wrong.”
The sum of money touched off an instant debate -- too much of it for a 35-year-old player coming off a torn Achilles’ tendon?
The extension, announced Monday, guaranteed Bryant would be the NBA’s highest-paid player next season ($23.5 million) and in 2015-16 ($25 million). It also guaranteed they could sign only one maximum-salary free agent next summer, not two.
Bryant thought the Lakers could “absolutely” still put together a championship team despite his extension.
“I think the fans are, God bless them, they’re fans and they have good intentions and have a good spirit about it, but I don’t think they understand the cap. . . . I think we’ll be all right,” he said.
Bryant said he had a solid individual workout Tuesday and was eager to go through some more practices next week to measure his explosiveness and ability to take off from a standstill position.
“I feel really, really strong,” he said.
The Lakers don’t practice again until next Tuesday. Their next game after that is at Sacramento on Dec. 6. A targeted date for his return?
“We’ll see, but you kind of start looking at some of those dates,” Bryant said. “Those three days when we get back [next week] are going to be huge to kind of see what I can do and what I can’t do.”
Bryant couldn’t resist giving the NBA, and outgoing Commissioner David Stern, a mild jab.
His contract extension “can’t be revoked by the NBA,” Bryant said, unlike the vetoed Chris Paul trade in 2011. He was smiling.
The negotiations for his extension were practically nonexistent, Bryant said.
“The only number that I saw was the number I agreed to,” Bryant said.
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