Kobe Bryant has never been one to lack confidence. The Los Angeles Lakers' shooting guard has put together an all-time résumé over the course of his 17 years in the NBA. To do the things that he's done, you have to believe you're capable of just about anything on a basketball court. It's what has made him fearless no matter what the situation is presented for him to attempt to conquer.
Bryant's newest situation to conquer is coming back from a torn Achilles tendon. The comeback from something like that has never been very easy to do, let alone to come back and play at an All-NBA level like Bryant is expected to do. But that's not deterring Kobe from looking at this situation as a mere speed bump in finishing out his career strong. Bryant told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com that he believes he can play at least another three years at a high level.
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. They played phenomenally well. But it's a testament to what skill can do. To what us old guys can do if you play together, if you play with one mind and one purpose you can accomplish great things. It was inspirational for me and hopefully inspirational for the city of Los Angeles and this organization of what we can do, how this tide can change fairly quickly and we'll be looking at a parade.
Legacy is clearly a very important thing to Bryant, and he wants to go out with arguably the greatest NBA career of all time. Another championship would tie him with Michael Jordan, but Bryant could push this whole discussion beyond that.
He has 31,617 career points, good for fourth all time. He's going to pass Jordan next season and be left sitting behind Karl Malone and leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If Bryant is able to come back quickly from his Achilles injury and keep his scoring pace like we saw last season, he'll score roughly 6,300 points over the next three years. That would move him ahead of Malone and put him within striking distance of becoming the all-time leader.
That would also mean Bryant is capable of putting in the same amount of production at year 20 in the NBA as he did in year 17, which is something that we rarely see done. Of course, we haven't seen a lot of people do the things that Bryant has done throughout his career.