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Kobe Bryant: "I Feel More Locked in Now"

Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers received the unfortunate news that Kobe Bryant would miss six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.  With Bryant barely returning from an Achilles tear and the Lakers already missing significant players from their line-up (Steve BlakeSteve Nash), this revelation proved to only further weaken Los Angeles' hope of qualifying for the postseason.

Taking into consideration the fact that this is Kobe's 18th season in the league, plus the tremendous amount of wear and tear he has clocked on his legs, it has been suggested the Lakers shut the superstar down for the remainder of the year to allow for a full recovery.  To no one's surprise however, Bryant is against the idea of taking an extended break.

Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

"Kobe Bryant has no plans to sit out the rest of the season as he recovers from a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.

'I think I feel more locked in now than I've been my entire career, because of this,' Bryant said. It was his first media session since being diagnosed with the fracture last week. 'The spirits are fine, the focus is great. Just going to see what happens when I come back.'

Bryant is nearly one week into an expected six-week recovery.

'My philosophy on that kind of stuff is: Do your job," Bryant said. "You owe it to the organization and your teammates to get ready as fast and as quickly as you possibly can and to come back as strong as you possibly can.'"

What else is to be expected?

This is Kobe Bryant we are discussing here.  The athlete who played a majority of the 2011/12 campaign with a torn ligament in his right wrist.  The baller who tore his Achilles and managed to knock down two free throws before walking off the court last season.  This incredible human being has battled through so much pain in the latter years of his career.  It makes perfect sense that he would find more motivation when the odds continue to increase against him.

As far as whether or not Kobe's return this season is smart for Los Angeles moving forward, I would honestly think it is in the Lakers' best interests to shut him down and avoid the risk of having him return too quickly.  LA is a long shot to actually make the playoffs in the stacked Western Conference this year;  the team is 13-16, Steve Blake and Steve Nash are sidelined, and Pau Gasol has been dealing with his fair share of struggles.  While there is a chance of the postseason happening, the odds of this ball club turning things around at this point are slim.  Bringing Bryant back into this mess would not only serve as a pointless risk for the Lakers, but it could potentially cause him to suffer a worse injury and miss play time during the 2 year, $48.5 million extension he signed, which goes into effect next season.

So no, it would not be smart for Los Angeles to let Kobe return.  Then again, this decision is not fully in the organization's control, is it?  The Black Mamba will do what the Black Mamba wants to do.  And as of now, the Black Mamba is focused on his recovery, and he wants to hit the court as soon as possible.