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Kobe Bryant interview: He'll be back, more focused than ever

Kobe Bryant talked Wednesday for the first time since fracturing the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee last week against Memphis.

Bryant, who is expected to miss six weeks, had played in only six games since returning from his torn left Achilles' tendon.

Here are some of the highlights from his interview (questions are sometimes paraphrased):

What has the last week been like for you with the latest injury?

Slow. It's just been slow in terms of trying to lay off it a bit and letting it heal and just doing the right things, in terms of when you don't have activity, you really got to watch the other parts of your life like nutrition and things like that. You don't want to take a step back and gain weight or anything like that. You have to make sure you do the necessary things to stay where you are.

Was this injury quite a blow to you?

A little bit. It's funny, I mean hearing all the comments and things like that just kind of help enhance my focus more. It's obviously not something that I wanted to have happen, but there's nothing you can do about it, so from that standpoint, you have to look at the injury for exactly what it is, which is something that's going to heal and be as strong as it ever was. I was fortunate that it wasn't a meniscus or anything else, so there's nothing that I have to really do from a recovery standpoint other than letting the bones heal, and letting the fracture heal. You kind of just have to look at the injury in a vacuum.

What have you been able to do?

I've been able to do some bike work, so I've been doing a lot of that. They don't want me to put any pressure on it, not yet, in terms of standing or anything like that, putting too much force on it.

What's the pain level?

Its really not painful, which kinda concerned me after the game. When I got into the locker room, it kind of felt like something was off. It just felt weird. There was a lot of swelling that was inside of the knee. It was a different feeling, it wasn't a painful feeling. With something like that, it always worries me a little bit.

Are you happy that it wasn't a torn ACL?

I was going in just to be cautious. I was expecting really a bone bruise more than anything else. I actually thought [Steve] Lombardo was joking when he told me. You know, it's not funny. He said he was quite serious.

Have the negative comments affected you?

Same old tune, it's just being sung a little more loudly now. Those types of things just really help me lock in more than ever.

Is it hard for you to miss the Christmas game?

It's strange to be coming in on Christmas and not playing. It's really strange. It's a foreign feeling. But I'm here, I'm here to support my guys and watch them go out and play well.

Were you looking forward to tonight?

Yeah, this was a really big measuring stick in terms of their activity, their speed, their size. I was really looking forward to this game to be able to measure where I was physically. Especially the time frame in which I came back, I was really looking at this game as being a game where I'd be in rhythm and really be able to measure what I can do and can't do.

Any chance you won't come back this season?

Not that I'm aware of. My job is I have to just train, get healthy, get strong and come back and do my job.

Will this break help your Achilles' tendon?

It can't hurt it. It just gives you more time to get even stronger and stronger. I think from a game standpoint, it gives me an opportunity to evaluate where my body was feeling because you've got to respond to several challenges, one was the Achilles and the other is playing for 18 years and how your body responds. It gives me a great opportunity to look at some of the issues or challenges I might have been having physically in other areas, and now I can readjust my program.

How's the Achilles' tendon?

It's feeling good. Obviously my legs have a little weight to them from all the playing. The metatarsals in my left foot were a little stiff. It gives me a great opportunity to adjust my training schedule and better simulate the things that were causing me soreness so when I come back, I'll be even more ready.

Have you wondered if you came back a month later, would that not have happened?

I don't think one had anything to do with the other. I mean, we've evaluated it pretty extensively. The fact of the matter is any of us can get hurt at any moment. The key for us as athletes is to block that fear out. When you have injuries, that fear is enhanced and you kind of put yourself under a microscope and start thinking about it too much. The reality is it can happen to anybody.

Anything you learned in the six games you played?

I learned that I could pretty much do everything that I could before, particularly in the last game. The biggest part of my game the last two or three years has always been being able to get to a space on the floor, being able to elevate and shoot pull-up jump shots, and getting into the paint. It was a great test going up against Tony Allen, who, in my opinion, has been the guy who has defended me the best individually in the league since I've been in the league ... being able to go up against him and respond to that challenge, I feel really good about it.

After playing the entire second half on an injured knee, do you ever wonder if you're too mentally tough?

I didn't know it was fractured. I don't think any of us did. You don't know. You just go out there and play, and the knee is stiff, and, yeah, it's painful but it's no worse than some of the things I've played with in the past.

You expressed self-doubt after the Achilles' tendon injury. Do you have any self-doubt now?

No. It's more so, just, obviously, you got the negative side of the injury, but aside from that, I feel like I had some really good questions answered in terms of what I can do on the basketball floor. ... The knee is not really a concern to me, a fracture will heal. The biggest question mark was how will my Achilles respond to my game, and I feel pretty good about that.

How would you gauge your return from Achilles' tendon injury?

Achilles felt fine. It was strong from getting out on the court. It was a matter of the rest of the body catching up. Like I said before, there's some natural tenativeness on what you can and what you can't do. You just go down the list and try to improve from game to game.

When you watch a game, are you saying, 'I could have helped there?'

It's hard to watch. It's really, really hard to watch. You want to be out there and you want to be out there helping and playing and competing with your guys. I mean, watching is the really, really tough part about this. I find myself kind of watching a little bit, and then changing the channel, and then watching a little bit, and then changing the channel. It's tough.

It's 12-25. Any special tribute to ESPN?

[Bryant laughs.] I have a long memory and it's a very good number.

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