However, with a joke out of the way, Bryant was ready to get serious.
“It was pretty silly to me,” Bryant said of his ESPN ranking. “25 was pretty silly – pretty laughable. But still, it’s a challenge I willingly accept.”
Though his drive has never been questioned, Bryant will still find a little extra motivation from the “diss” he’s received from ESPN’s writers.
“Motivation has always been there for me,” Kobe said. “It’s always come from inside of me. The external stuff is kind of like the cherry on top of the cake.”
And that “cherry on the cake” isn’t just for the writers; it’s for the GMs, too.
The league’s general managers ranked Bryant as the second-best shooting guard in the NBA earlier this week, placing the 35-year-old behind Houston’s James Harden.
“I think they are counting on me being on one leg,” Bryant said. “They don’t think I can come back from this injury.”
Bryant has even admitted that, at times, he too doubts whether he can come back from this torn Achilles. But those thoughts don’t last for long, and soon, he regains the Mamba Mentality.
Still, the question on everybody’s mind is when the five-time champion will finally step back onto the court. Nobody knows, but Bryant wants to make sure it’s as soon as physically possible.
“I’m thinking about getting as healthy as I can as quickly as possible to come back and try to help us make some noise,” Kobe said.
And when he finally comes back and begins his 18th campaign in the league, how will he look on the court? Will he be a shell of the player that we all used to know and love?
Once again, Bryant firmly distanced himself from the doubters.
“I think I’ll play like my normal self,” Kobe said.
Only time will tell who’s right.