Kobe Bryant remains ahead of schedule in his rehab from surgery on a torn Achilles tendon, but he's unsure if he'll be ready to play in the Los Angeles Lakers' season opener on Oct. 29. However, one thing Bryant is sure about is the fact that his career isn't over.
Bryant said as much on Thursday during "Kobe Up Close," a one-on-one interview with Jimmy Kimmel held at the Nokia Theatre across from the Staples Center. Bryant explained that his main motivation for continuing his career after such a devastating injury is grabbing a sixth championship ring and tying Michael Jordan in that department:
"I just want that jewelry," he said, referring to the possibility of claiming his sixth NBA championship.
"People just don't understand how obsessed I am with winning."
Bryant spoke with Kimmel on a variety of topics, including his pre-draft workouts with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, his preferred college choice of North Carolina had he decided not to go straight to the NBA out of high school and of course, Dwight Howard.
Kimmel also asked Bryant whether he planned on remaining with the Lakers for the rest of his career. The answer? A simple, "Yeah."
Interestingly enough, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had just discussed Bryant's future earlier in the day with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio's "The Herd," and Kupchak believes the Lakers' star could possibly still be suiting up in the purple and gold in three years:
When asked if Bryant could still be a Laker in three years, Kupchak said, "If he can play at a high level, I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be."
"There really has been no discussions beyond next year for obvious reasons," Kupchak said. "You have a player who is up in age and just had a devastating injury. Obviously, we created an environment with our team where were looking to have financial flexibility a year from now, so that plays into it."
Bryant's mammoth contract will be up after this upcoming year, but unless the season is a disaster, it's hard to envision him not being in a Lakers uniform in 2014-15.