Not too long ago, Kobe Bryant was making some noise about the impending conclusion of his career, implying to CBS Sports that the expiration of his current contract after the 2014 season would likely give way to his retirement. But now Bryant has changed his tune, telling Lakers.com that he feels like he can play for at least another three seasons. What brought about the change of heart? Bryant's pathological competitiveness, of course.
Here's what Kobe said in a video interview with Lakers.com:
I feel pretty damn confident I can be at a high level for at least another three years. I feel like how I was playing last year—I know I'll be healthy and I'll be ready to go this year. I know what I can bring. And I think I can easily do that for another three years. I think the (Achilles) injury has something to do with it. It really increased the drive. And probably San Antonio getting so close to winning No. 5, probably hurt me a little bit too. I want to make sure I push the ring count out a little further. It was really, really close there.
I honestly think Bryant might be the only athlete who spends more time worrying about legacies than all of the world's hack sportswriters combined. He was admittedly pained by the fact that another team—one full of old guys, mind you—nearly pulled off the title run that should have been his. It doesn't even matter that the Spurs didn't win the title, just the mere fact that they sniffed a fifth ring is enough to get Bryant motivated for another three seasons. Nobody puts Kobe Bryant's legacy in danger and gets away with it, dammit.
Don't be surprised if a shell-shocked Dwight Howard emerges from today's meeting with Bryant and the Lakers with a new contract for the mid-level exception in his hand. A motivated Kobe Bryant can be a frightening thing.