Facing the possibility of being a part of the worst Los Angeles Lakers team of all time, Kobe Bryant sat down with ESPN's Darren Rovell for the network's Sunday Conversation and said he wants his team to have "the greatest comeback that the league has ever seen."
Further discussing the nightmarish season the Lakers have had, Kobe said:
If you're gonna fail, I guess fail, and be the best at it. You gotta have a sense of humor in very dark moments. The reality is, it's been a brutal year, but there's nothing we can do about it right now. It's important to try not to beat ourselves up too much about it. It is what it is.
What it is right now is a 23-46 record and a position near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. That's certainly not something Bryant is used to, and he doesn't want to make a habit of losing.
He told Rovell he wants this rebuilding to be a swift one:
We've been decimated with injuries, but now it's time to regroup and look ahead. And start strategizing as an organization. Alright, how are we going to turn this thing around? We might have had the worst season ever, or could have the worst season ever for a Lakers team. But now let's have the greatest comeback that the league has ever seen.
Such a comeback will be largely dependent on two things: Kobe's health and the decisions the front office makes this summer.
Bryant will turn 36 before the 2014-15 season kicks off, and he's coming off of a torn Achilles and broken knee. The mileage alone would be enough to cause worry. Adding major injuries compounds the concern.
In spite of his age and injury woes, the Lakers signed Bryant to a two-year, $48.5 million extension earlier this season. A few months later, the superstar guard criticized the decisions of the front office. You can only assume he wasn't talking about his own contract.
The remarks raised some eyebrows, but it appears that all is well between Bryant and Buss:
Kobe told @darrenrovell that he spoke to Jim Buss after making his harsh statements re: the Buss family. Air is clear, they're cool now— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) March 24, 2014
Bryant also told Rovell why he's so passionate about this, and why he doesn't want to go through a long, drawn-out rebuild:
It was important for us to have that conversation. I've been a part of this franchise since I was 17 years old. I feel like I bleed purple and gold.
This organization is just... it's not gonna take a nosedive. But I think we need to accelerate it a little bit, for selfish reasons, cause I wanna win. And I wanna win next season.
On the bright side, winning next season won't be impossible. Again, Bryant being healthy is critical. After that, the front office has the opportunity to surround him with a couple of big pieces.
Most of this year's squad is on one-year deals, so the Lakers will have some cap space to work with in free agency.
How will the Los Angeles Lakers fare next season?
And the terrible record this season has certainly been hard to endure, but it will lead to a draft pick that could be in the top three, depending on the ping pong balls in the lottery.
If L.A. lands a potential superstar in Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, we could see Bryant mentor the youngster similarly to how David Robinson ushered Tim Duncan into the league.
Those two were able to win a title together before Robinson rode off into the sunset. It's not crazy to think Bryant could do the same, pulling off one of the greatest comebacks we've ever seen.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.