It would be an understatement to say that the 2012/13 season was a disappointment for the Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Bryant helped will the Lakers into the playoffs with a late-season surge but had to watch his club get bounced by the Spurs from the sidelines. Now, six weeks into his rehabilitation program, the 34-year-old sat down with Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com to discuss his future and plans for the summer. Here's a look at the highlights..
Will you be ready for the 2013/14 opener?
"I hope so. That's the challenge. With the tendon, there's really only but so much you can do. There's a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don't overstretch it and now you never get that spring back. So, you just have to be patient, let the tendon heal and then when that moment comes when they say, 'OK, we can take off the regulator so to speak and now it's on you to train as hard as you can to get back to where you want to be,' that's going to be a good day."
On courting Dwight Howard back to L.A.:
"For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be. We all want him here. But then that's when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don't start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument. I'll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word."
What if Howard goes elsewhere?
"This franchise is a franchise that you really don't have to worry about too much, because no matter what happens, whether it's a year from now, two years from now, whatever the case may be, they're always going to find a way to have an impact on this league. It's gotten to a point at this stage in my career where those lines of communication are more open and we talk more frequently both with [general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and [vice president of player personnel] Jimmy [Buss] and [vice president of business operations] Jeanie [Buss] to a certain extent. Those lines of communication are open."
"I talked to Phil about it. I said, 'You know, you can't compare me at [age] 21-22-23 to Michael at 28-29-30. That's not a fair comparison. But, you know, I'm comfortable at resting on my five [championships] and what I had to do for this team to be successful. We both had different roles and [Jordan has] had his level of frustration coming up as a young player and challenges that he had to deal with and I had mine in playing a different role to what I thought naturally I could do. We had different career paths, man, so it's kind of tough to [compare]. At least for me it is, anyway."
On retirement plans:
"I don't know if I want a farewell tour because I want that competition. I want the crowd being on top of you all the time. I wouldn't want a farewell tour. No. I wouldn't do that."