Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is adamant that he still wants to play again this season, telling ESPN.com that he has set a personal target of ending his injury hell quickly despite any fleeting hopes of play-off contention slipping away.
Bryant is still sidelined with a knee fracture suffered on December 17, heaping further misery on a campaign which has already been blighted by an Achilles injury.
The 35-year-old is expected to revaluate his condition after the All-Star break but was non-committal over a timeline for his return, sharing that he has found watching the Lakers struggle with a depleted squad in his absence extremely difficult to take.
He told ESPN: "That I don't know," Bryant said. "It's completely out of my control. I really got to sit here and just wait until this thing heals up and then go out there and do what I do."
"The last week's been horrible. That Cleveland game, it was crazy. And then [Chris] Kaman goes to sleep on the bench, it's like when big brother is not around, you start doing crazy [stuff]. So, it's been rough. It's been rough. But I've been just riding the bike, trying to stay active, stay in shape, spend a lot of time with my family -- which really helps to kind of balance it out.
"I hate not being there with the guys and watching them going through that period that they're going through. It's very, very tough. I just try to be patient."
Without Kobe and a host of first-team regulars the Lakers went 2-1 on the road last week, before losing Steve Nash to a freak injury in Sunday night's 86-92 loss to the Chicago Bulls, leaving them 9.5 games behind the final Western Conference play-off spot.