Kobe Bryant has never had a problem with self-motivation.
A seamless transition from the preps to the pros, five championship rings and 17 NBA seasons (so far) are all evidence of that fact.
But in the face of Bryant's greatest challenge to date—returning from a grueling round of rehab for his torn Achilles at age 35—he has leaned on external doubts to fuel his internal fire.
Now he's taking issue with a Los Angeles Times' article titled "Injury clouds the future for Bryant, Lakers." He posted this picture of the piece on his Facebook page:
Although this article was not new, the doubters are still fresh in Kobe's mind.
It's hard to blame the newspaper for taking this route with his recovery. Even if his game fully returns to its pre-injury level—his numbers, at least, could be as good as ever thanks to L.A.'s talent-deprived roster around him—his future remains a mystery.
His contract will expire at season's end. He told LakersNation.com's Serena Winters that he has no interest in taking a major pay cut, a strategy that should help Bryant at the negotiating table but may restrict the team's ability to land a top-flight player from next summer's free-agent class.
And while he wants to deliver an unexpected winner to the L.A. faithful, doing so would put even more strain on his aging body. His two most trustworthy teammates heading into 2013-14 are Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, elder statesmen in their own rights who saw plummeting production during their injury-plagued 2012-13 campaigns.
It isn't easy to question Bryant, but Father Time's record still stands unblemished. I'm not a skeptic, just a realist.
And, in Bryant's eyes, no doubt just another source of Mamba motivation.