Looking for something to fuel his taxing rehab from the torn Achilles that stole the final weeks of his 2012-13 season from him, the Mamba tasked the Twitter world to find the perfect slogan for his long road back to the hardwood. He settled on a winner on Friday afternoon, sparking a near-riot in Lakers Nation in the process:
With just one year left on his current contract, fans wondered just how many pages that "Last Chapter" would be. He's always maintained that he won't play once his body strips him of his elite-level talent, so he's been facing a host of retirement questions since suffering that painful Achilles tear.
For his part, Bryant has refused to let the injury determine the fate of his career. In fact, the 34-year-old plans to play in L.A.'s season opener some six-plus months after tearing the tendon.
It's an optimistic time frame for sure, but one that team trainer Gary Vitti says is impossible to rule out this early in the rehab process.
"We don't know yet," Vitti told NBA.com's Mike Trudell. "Kobe looks exactly the way he's supposed to look at this point in time. Kobe makes you look good as a training staff...we always feel good about how he's going to recover from anything, and that's a credit to him."
If Bryant's telling the truth and really eyeing just two more years in the league, it's hard to imagine him not doing everything in his power to maximize his activity in each of those seasons. Don't forget this is the same player that just last season, his 17th in his career, logged two minutes above his career average (38.8 up from 36.8).
And despite all of the accolades (15 All-Star selections, five championships, two scoring titles and a regular-season MVP award), there's still work to be done:
A motivated Mamba is a nightmarish prospect for his opponents. Like it or not, those bad dreams aren't likely to stop for at least two more years.
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