Kobe talks: Targets early return, lays out plan to keep Dwight

USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant spoke with Dave McMenamin of ESPN and revealed he still hopes to return by the Lakers season opener, wants to have the last word with Dwight Howard regarding free agency, and is unlikely to announce when he plans to retire.

Kobe Bryant sat down with ESPN's Dave McMenamin to discuss his plan to be ready by opening night after tearing his his Achilles, why he won't reveal when he plans on retiring, and his take on Dwight Howard's future with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant tore his Achilles on April 12 against the Golden State Warriors. He is now out of his walking boot and using what he deemed "medical mambas" that Nike custom-made with extra Achilles support so that he can begin walking during his rehabilitation sessions. With his recovery moving forward without any setbacks, Bryant revealed to McMenamin that he is still hopeful that he can return for the 2013-2014 season opener:

...Kobe Bryant is still hoping for a return by the Los Angeles Lakers' 2013-14 season opener.

"I hope so," Bryant said in a sit-down interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday. "That's the challenge. With the tendon, there's really only but so much you can do. There's a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don't overstretch it and now you never get that spring back.

The other "big" question for the Lakers franchise is the future of Howard, who has repeatedly made it clear that he intends to explore his options once he becomes a free agent on July 1. Bryant has previously stated that his preference is for Howard to return and stated that he will reach out to Howard personally over the Summer. Bryant told McMenamin that he understands Howard will do his due diligence as he speaks with other teams and will give Howard a "little opening statement", but ultimately wants to have the "final word" with Howard before he makes his decision:

"For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be," Bryant said. "We all want him here. But then that's when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don't start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.

"I'll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word."

On the subject of his retirement, Bryant revealed that he does not intend to make an announcement beforehand as he does not want a "farewell tour" around the league:

One thing that's certain is Bryant does not plan on announcing to the world when his final season is underway.

"I don't know if I want a farewell tour because I want that competition," said Bryant, who called himself a "dinosaur" following the recent retirements of Jason Kidd and Grant Hill. "I want the crowd being on top of you all the time. I wouldn't want a farewell tour. No. I wouldn't do that."

The full interview with McMenamin can be read here.

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

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