Kobe Bryant has been making plenty of headlines the past two days after injuring his ankle on his ill-fated final shot attempt in Wednesday's loss to the Hawks. The Black Mamba believed defender Dahntay Jones intentionally tried to put him in harm's way on the play, and the pair have since engaged in a back-and-forth through the media. The NBA jumped in the fray, announcing Thursday that Jones should have been called for a foul on the play. It appeared Bryant would have to miss tonight game against the Pacers, but even though Mike Trudell of Lakers.com called him "99% doubtful" for tonight, he announced just a few hours later that Bryant is in the starting lineup (Twitter links).
Bryant also spoke with Michael Wilbon for a Grantland Network video this week, and covered a litany of topics in the 20-plus-minute interview. HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy touched on a few of them in his piece, and we'll round up the highlights from Bryant's conversation with Wilbon here:
On retirement, which Bryant has frequently suggested could come in 2014:
"I’m not fooling myself thinking I’m going to be playing another five to 10 years. I mean, that’s just crazy."
On his post-retirement plans:
"I love working toward something, and I enjoy hearing people say I won’t be able retire gracefully. I enjoy that challenge. I do hear that a lot. I’m so stubborn and competitive, when I hear that, it makes me want to retire just to prove to them that I can retire gracefully. I’m going to win at something, whether it’s retiring gracefully or defeating father time. I’m going to win one of those things."
On Dwight Howard, a free agent this summer:
"(We) get along in the sense that we understand each other. We know what our responsibilities are to the team. Yeah, absolutely. It's not like, (if) you asked Dwight or you asked myself, we don't dislike each other at all. It's not like when Shaq and I were feuding, we didn't want to be around each other. For me and Dwight that's not the situation. It's not like we're best friends, either, but it's a good understanding, I think."
On the Lakers' unexpected struggles this season:
"I certainly didn't envision being this doggone tired at this point during the season, having to work this hard, but it is what it is. We didn't picture losing our head coach that early into the season, or having Steve go down with a freak fracture to his leg the second game of the season, Pau being out, all this stuff going on, we could have never envisioned it. The biggest part is that we all stuck together through the ups and downs, and now we find ourselves playing some good basketball."