Lakers guard Kobe Bryant feels “pretty damn confident” that he can play at a high level for at least another three years. After watching the 34-year old blow out his ACL just before the NBA Playoffs, he has a long list of doubters. Bryant has said he bases his opinion on where he was before the injury, and how his drive has increased during his rehab.
For the past year, Bryant has publicly said he wished to complete his final year of his contract and then retire. Judging by that statement alone would explain his emotional tirade after suffering the ACL injury. Bryant took to his Facebook page and mentioned “pulling out the rocking chair, and reflecting on the career that was”. In only a few months, what has changed? An ACL injury is bad, but the rehab can be more grueling than the injury itself. Why does Bryant want three more years now, after just wanting one more year this past season? The Spurs.
In an interview, Bryant mentions watching the San Antonio Spurs being on the bring of an NBA title only to lose in dramatic fashion. He saw the older, aging core of the Spurs win their fair share of battles against the young and thriving Miami Heat. He could have also watched 37-year old Ray Allen splash the game-tying 3-pointer that sent Game 6 of the NBA Finals into overtime. Bryant would be 37 at the end of another three year stint, why can’t he do the same thing as Allen, Duncan, and Ginobili?
Knowing the competitive nature of Bryant, I can only assume he may have been rooting for the Heat just a little. Tim Duncan mere seconds away from tying Kobe Bryant’s mark of 5 NBA Championships. In a day and age when a player’s career can be judged on how many rings he wins, Bryant shudders at the thought of sharing his career’s spotlight with another player. Bryant wants to push his ring count passed 5 before he “brings out the rocking chair, and reflects on the career that was.”
I know I will never bet against Kobe Bryant coming back from this injury and playing at a high level. If he believes he has three more years, he will play three more years. While his level of play will be questioned, the team Bryant plays for may be his biggest hurdle if he wants to push that ring count beyond 5. The Lakers are in a serious state of flux with their star center Dwight Howard wanting out of town. In theory, Howard in L.A. would certainly help the cause. Even if Howard works out, the questions about the Lakers chemistry and how they can mesh may loom too large to win another crown for Kobe Bryant.