Kobe Bryant confident he can play ‘for at least another three years’

SI.com

SI.com

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said Monday that he feels confident that he can play “at a high level for at least another three years.”

“I feel pretty damn confident I can be at a high level for at least another three years,” said Bryant in an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. “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.”

For the past year, Bryant has said he would finish out his current contract after this season and either retire or play one final year.  But now the 34-year-old, said he wants to push his ring count a little further after watching the San Antonio Spurs advance to the NBA Finals this year.

“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.”

Bryant has five championships with the Lakers.  Spurs veteran forward Tim Duncan has four.

“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.”

How quickly the Lakers return to the Finals, likely hinges on free-agent center Dwight Howard’s decision on his future.

General manager Mitch Kupchak will meet with Howard on Tuesday, after the All-Star center has met with the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.

“We’ll have a team out there on the floor that’s going to be a contender,” said Bryant.