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Feb 18, 2015
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Like MJ before him, soon it will be 36-year-old Kobe Bryant's turn to leave. The all-time NBA great and first-ballot Hall of Famer has been at it for 19 years now, having entered as a bright-eyed rookie way back in 1996. For perspective, that year was a time when Twister, the first Mission: Impossible, and G-mik dominated telebabad conversations.

Even in his twilight years, Kobe has the power to dominate conversations—albeit in a way that's slightly unfamiliar to this warrior. The past two years have not been kind to the Black Mamba, as we see his body slowly breaking down.

First, the Achilles. Then, his knees. Now, his shoulder.

The signs are clear, we're on the tail end of Kobe's incredible career—in spite of a real feeling that no, we probably shouldn't count him out until he says so himself.

And if the NBA TV special, Kobe: The Interview—an enlightening talk overseen by longtime NBA journalist Ahmad Rashad—is to be believed, there's a real chance that Kobe's going to mount a successful comeback next season.

On his comeback quest, these were Kobe's fighting words: "I want to see if I can. I don't know if I can. I want to find out. I want to see. What I'm going to do is do what I always do: I'm going to break everything down to its smallest form, smallest detail, and go after it day by day. Just one day at a time."

These were just some of the words that Kobe shared in the nearly one-hour one-on-one. Below, we share with you some of the meatiest parts of the interview broken down into discussions on Shaq, Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and his own future—along with the best bits we learned about the guy.


KOBE ON SHAQ


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

1) Kobe wasn't friends with Shaq during their dynasty.

2) They weren't friends because Kobe obsessed over hard work; Shaq just wanted the ball dumped to him.

3) Kobe and Shaq didn't talk behind each other's back. They talked face to face like real men.

BONUS: Shaq shouldn't be upset about this because Kobe said he really has no friends according to a GQ interview.


KOBE ON PHIL JACKSON


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

4) Phil made young Kobe and the Lakers train without the ball—something that young Kobe thought was "weird."

5) Kobe Bryant knew all along that he was going to be a baller: "I knew what God put me on this earth to do, which is to play the game of basketball."

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6) Triangle offense proprietor Tex Winter's real name is Morice Fredrick Winter but Kobe calls him Yoda. Of course.


KOBE ON MICHAEL JORDAN


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

7) On December 17, 1997, Kobe (33 points) and MJ (36 points) had their most memorable game against one another. One of the best moments was when Kobe (the pupil) came over to MJ (the master) to ask a few tips about hitting turnaround jump shots. MJ obliged. 

8) We've missed Kobe's mini-afro more than we care to admit.

9) When Kobe was 21, he challenged Jordan to a one-on-one game. MJ said: "You can't guard me." Kobe fired back: "You can't guard me."


KOBE ON INJURY


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

10) Kobe was playing with pain in his shoulder for a long time. On January 21, 2015, in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the rotator cuff in his right shoulder finally tore enough to require surgery. The cuff had been partially torn for quite some time leading up to that point, Kobe admits.

11) Kobe has actual tears. After his Achilles injury on April 12, 2013, an emotional Kobe let some frustration out about the way his season ended. It was the 80th game of the season, and they were on their way to the Playoffs when the injury happened. The Lakers still made it, but without Kobe, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.


KOBE ON LEADERSHIP


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

12) When things aren't going the right away, Kobe sometimes feel like he wants to "pick this whole train up and get it to where it needs to go by yourself and if they're not coming along, then you just drag them along."

13) Kobe thinks that confrontation is good: "There's a big misconception when people think that winning or success comes from everybody putting their arms around each other and singing 'Kumbaya' and patting them on the back when they mess up. And that's just not reality. If you're going to be a leader, you're not going to please everybody. You've got to hold people accountable even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable."

14) Kobe would rather sit with somebody on the dinner table who can tell him that he has something in his teeth.

15) Sasha Vujacic probably still has a bruise on his rib caused by Kobe 's elbow.


END OF AN ERA?


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

16) Kobe wants some of that Spurs-juice: "I thought the Spurs were done 20 years ago. These guys are still winning. So to answer your question, I can't say this is the end of my era because I thought theirs were done and they're still here. So I'm hoping I can have the same rebirth."

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LIFE AFTER BASKETBALL


Video via NBAshowtimeHD

What we found out:

17) Your expectation on Kobe Bryant will never be higher than Kobe's expectation of himself. Never, never, never.

18) The season-ending injuries have given Kobe time to pause and think of what he's going to do next after his basketball career is over. He's still thinking.


In the meantime, Kobe, do us NBA fans a favor, and get back on the court quickly!

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