Kobe Bryant’s goal this season: Stay healthy in ‘unchartered territory’

Kobe Bryant is excited to see how the final chapter of his career goes.

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Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has accepted the fact that the final chapter in his storied 20-year career is out of his control.

He has worked his tail off to rehab and recover from an assortment of injuries over the past few years, and yet, his career can be over in the blink of eye. No player is more mentally or physically prepared for the toll of an 82-game season than Bryant, but at 37 years old, there’s only so much wear and tear his body can handle.

What’s more, even if Bryant does stay healthy, there’s no guaranteeing he’ll be his normal self. Though he can still score with the best of them — Bryant averaged 22.3 points in 35 games last season — Bryant’s inefficiency (37.3 percent shooting) is catching up with him, as he lacks the athleticism and explosion to create separation from quicker, stronger defenders.

And finally, when it comes to what matters most to Bryant — winning another championship — the Lakers couldn’t be further away. There’s an outside shot they make the playoffs given the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks almost certainly will be dropping out of the picture, but realistically the Lakers will be one of the three or four worst teams in the West again.

Despite all of this uncertainty facing what could potentially be Bryant’s final season, he’s embracing it as best he can, given the circumstances.

“I just let (the concerns) go after a while, man,” Bryant told USA Today Sports. “You have to ask yourself, did you do everything you possibly could to prepare for the season? And I have. I’ve trained really hard to get to this point, and you have to be comfortable with that. Whatever happens is really beyond your control.”

Bryant’s goals, in some order: Stay healthy, be productive and win. None of those are assured, but he’s preparing and hoping for the best.

As with any challenge he undertakes, Bryant finds excitement in it. 

In his opinion, he is in "unchartered territory" heading into next season when compared with other NBA legends, especially his idol.

“This is uncharted territory,” Bryant said. “My 37 (years old) isn’t MJ’s 37 (when he returned after taking two seasons off to play for the Washington Wizards), you know what I mean? Nor is it the same team or the same system that he was playing in. It’s much, much different. There’s really no barometer, no (precedent) for training physically, for recovery. It’s uncharted territory.”