With Kobe Bryant suffering a third straight season-ending injury with a torn rotator cuff, many have started to speculate about his future and whether he’s got anything left in the tank.
On Sunday night, Bryant returned to the Staples Center for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. Kobe spoke with Lakers reporter Mike Trudell on TWCSportsNet about the recovery process he’s facing and how it compares to his last two he went through:
“The Achilles one was horrible. This one is much, much better. I can move around a lot more. It feels strong.”
Bryant was also asked what fans can expect from him next season:
“To be ready. I train like a normally do and do everything possible to be ready. Come back with a vengeance.”
Clearly, Kobe is prepared to put in the work and get body right before heading into his 20th and potentially final season in the NBA. Although Bryant has racked up the miles on his body, the 36-year-old is as sharp as ever with the mentality of trying prove the doubters wrong once again.
Trudell also asked if the current process to return is an advantage with it being an arm injury opposed to the two previous:
“Yeah. It’s definitely an advantage. I can start running pretty soon. Start lifting weights, get my legs strong. Whereas the last few injuries I haven’t been able to do that.”
In August, Bryant will turn 37 without much further to go in the recovery process. Kobe will also have a good idea of what the Lakers roster will look like heading into what could be his last season.
Mitch Kupchak and company will have quite a few options in free agency this summer along with potentially owning a top-five pick. Next season’s squad will likely look much different if things work in the Lakers’ favor during what will be a crucial off-season.[divide]