With his NBA career winding down, the last thing Kobe Bryant wants is some kind of farewell tour. Bryant is the SI cover subject this week and remains as proudly defiant as ever.

The Black Mamba acknowledges that injuries and father time have caught up to him, but he’s determined to still be one of the very best in the L:

“If you booed me for 18, 19 years, boo me for the 20th. That’s the game, man,” Bryant said.

 

He is venturing into business, forming Kobe, Inc., last year and takes an anecdote from the late Michael Jackson in trying to measure his success. Jackson was determined to have the best-selling album all of time and listened to the Bee Gees’ Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which held the record by the time 1982’s Thriller” came out. […] “I f—— love that story,” Bryant said in his unending determination of being the best of all time. Thriller now holds that record.

 

“So when I hear pundits and people talk, saying, ‘Well, he won’t be what he was.’ Know what? You’re right. I won’t be. But just because something evolves, it doesn’t make it any less better than it was before,” Bryant said.