(Reuters) – Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is finding it hard to take it easy in the NBA off-season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
The twice NBA Finals MVP made a fourth trip to China in as many years this week to meet fans in the basketball-crazy nation, where he sells more shirts than the country’s own Yao Ming.
“The hardest thing for me to do is to do nothing,” he told Tuesday’s China Daily newspaper in an interview.
“I have always got to be working and pushing myself. This summer is really the best training for me — to do nothing.
“The body needs rest and the injury has to heal. You have to recharge your body and get ready for next season. So in lots of ways, this is the hardest training for me.”
Bryant started his five-city tour of China with an audience with some 1,600 basketball fans in Beijing late on Monday. A thousand more waited outside the theater in sweltering heat just hoping for a glimpse.
Despite having surgery on the same knee for the third time after 2003 and 2006, he assured the noisy audience he would be fit for his bid for a sixth NBA title with the Lakers.
“Another NBA championship ring next season is the biggest motivation for me,” he told the paper.
“It’s the same for us every year. We will not change much. We have the unity and the majority of the team is the same. So, it’s the same goal for us every year.”
Although retirement is still a long way away for the 31-year-old guard, Bryant has clearly given thought to what he does not want to do when his playing days are over — coach.
“No. Absolutely not. No, no, no,” he said.
“Being a coach is too frustrating for me. I like coaching kids and holding training clinics for the kids. But to be a coach from the regular season to the playoffs … I have no interest at all.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney and Haze Fan; Editing by Peter Rutherford)