LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant isn't sure he'll be ready to play when the Los Angeles Lakers open the season on Oct. 29, although he remains ahead of schedule in rehabbing his surgically repaired Achilles' tendon.
Bryant turns 35 next week and he vowed that his 17-year career is "definitely not over."
"I just want that jewelry," he said, referring to the possibility of claiming his sixth NBA championship.
"People just don't understand how obsessed I am with winning."
Bryant made his comments to late night host Jimmy Kimmel during "Kobe Up Close," a one-on-one conversation with the NBA superstar on Thursday night at Nokia Theatre across from Staples Center.
He had a one-word answer when Kimmel asked whether he would finish his career with the only team he's ever played for: "Yeah," Bryant replied.
The 7,100-seat venue was full of Bryant's fans that cheered, jeered and interrupted freely during the one-hour program. Ticket proceeds benefited the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which works to help end homelessness.
In keeping with the reason for the event, Kimmel asked, "If there was only one homeless person in the world, would you be happy if it was Dwight Howard?"
The audience roared, mere weeks removed from Howard's decision to leave the Lakers for Houston after one season.
"Dwight is a great kid," Bryant said, nearly drowned out by boos. "We have different perspectives on what it takes to win."
Kimmel kept the questions light while touching on a variety of topics well known to Bryant's most ardent fans.
Bryant recalled that before he was drafted in 1996 by Charlotte and then traded to the Lakers, he worked out for Boston and the Clippers.
"I had a really fun and good workout with the Clippers," he said. "They told me, 'This is the best workout we've ever seen.'"
But he said the team told him it wouldn't be drafting him out of high school.
"We want to turn things around with our organization and we felt like if we drafted a 17-year-old kid, the city of L.A. wouldn't take us seriously," Bryant said the Clippers told him.
Kimmel retorted, "They always make the best decisions."
Bryant said Chris Paul should have ended up with the Lakers instead of the Clippers. The NBA office, which owned New Orleans at the time, decided against a deal team officials had agreed to with the Lakers.