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Kobe Bryant Reflects on Career in 'SI' Cover Story

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Kobe Bryant Reflects on Career in 'SI' Cover Story

Oh, no, here comes another office-park all-star with a retreating hairline and a softening middle who wants to take his pants off in front of Kobe Bryant. It is the second to last day of summer, and Bryant is sitting on a stool at the bar inside the Haute Cakes Caffe in Newport Beach, Calif., waiting for order number 18: scrambled eggs, pancakes and a vanilla latte. He gazes out the window into the courtyard, morning fog starting to lift on his adopted Orange County hometown, when the middle-aged man in the corner of the restaurant waves a hand. Bryant knows what the silver stranger wants to say. Part of rehab from a ruptured Achilles tendon is a hundred run-ins with Baby Boomers who underwent similar procedures after fateful pickup games and racquetball matches. They are eager to reveal the flesh evidence, regardless of what layers they must lift, unbutton or discard. "Been 10 years," the man crows, pointing down at his own heel, "and it's never felt stronger."

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