For the first time in seven seasons, Kobe Bryant won't be in the starting line-up for the Los Angeles Lakers when the team opens against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears on Oct. 29, Bryant believes he'll return the same player -- and even a little better:
"I'm going to be the way I've always been. Maybe a little better. It's always interesting, it's motivating to hear people doubt me. The same guys put the nail in my coffin six years ago. They're still trying."
While Bryant was seen running up and down the court in China last week, there were concerns of a possible setback after he scaled down basketball activities recently. With so much uncertainty surrounding this injury and his return, Bryant made it clear that he won't play until he can perform at a high level.
Since Bryant is so competitive and wants to prove his doubters wrong, there's a chance he may return earlier than he should. However, he wants to make sure that he's ready before he steps on the court again:
"I'm really competitive. To come back at anything less than to play exceptional basketball is not really smart, then I'm not going to be at my top level and that makes the critics right. That [stuff] isn't going to happen."
Many players who have suffered this devastating injury have struggled to come back, but if there's anyone who can and will, it's Kobe. While he is now 35-years-old, Bryant has the mental toughness and work ethic to get through this.
Bryant has made headlines during the off-season when he informed thousands of fans in Asia that he is ahead of schedule. With Bryant ramping up his basketball activities, a return is near and he is more motivated than ever with all the negativity that surrounds him.
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