Kobe Bryant has given Los Angeles Lakers fans the news they have been waiting to hear ever since their idol came off the court on during a rare win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 17.
He is 100-percent fit.
Bryant was speaking whilst in Brazil for this summer's 2014 FIFA World Cup, and when asked how he, and his knee, were feeling after being limited to just six regular-season appearances during the 2013-14 campaign he was emphatic in his response:
"Oh yeah, I am one-hundred percent. One-hundred percent," the 16-time All-Star said with a wry smile.
On the comeback trail
Kobe could do little more than watch on in despair last season as the Lakers limped to an atrocious 27-55 record which saw them finish just one place off the bottom of the Western Conference.
A persistent knee injury forced the 35-year old NBA legend to sit out most of the games, and even when he could perhaps have taken to the court as the season wound to a close then coach Mike D'Antonio decided not to risk his prized asset in fear of aggravating the injury.
Had the Lakers been in playoff contention that could have been different.
What next for Kobe and the Lakers?
With Kobe seemingly raring to go, and ready to start for the Lakers next season, it will be interesting to see how the Lakers bounce back from what was one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Bryant himself spoke candidly about their chances:
"It's a very, very tough season. But wha'ts life without a few challenges?You've got to have a few challenges," the Black Mamba explained.
"This summer I'm training really hard. The organization is working really hard to make sure we have a great team. That's the best time - when people count you out."
The Lakers are used to winning and they will benefit from having the presence of Kobe in their midst next season, even if he is being paid a hefty sum for the privilege, as they look to rekindle that winning feeling.
Kobe also confirmed during the interview that his latest two-year contract, which has drawn criticism from US soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann, will be his last in professional basketball.
So while one of the greats of the game has assured fans that he will be back to his '100-percent' best next season, the Lakers will have to start planning for life after Kobe soon enough.
What do you think? How much can a fit Kobe Bryant help the Lakers next season?
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