Even though it's not going to be easy for Kobe Bryant to come back from the Achilles injury that he suffered at the end of last season, we're willing to bet that he's going to do it. Reason being, Kobe has always put in the work necessary to get better on the basketball court. He proves it in a new cover story for Sports Illustrated by talking about all the things that he has been able to overcome in his career simply by putting in a lot of time and work behind the scenes to improve as both a player and a person.

One of the most interesting parts of the story comes when Kobe discusses something that he did to O.J. Mayo back in 2007 when Mayo, then the No. 1 high school player in the country, attended the Kobe Basketball Academy. According to Kobe, Mayo asked him if the two could work out together at some point during the camp, and Kobe agreed. "Yeah," Kobe replied, "I'll pick you up at three."

Three o'clock came and went, though, and the next day, Mayo asked Kobe where he was the prior afternoon. "Three in the morning," Kobe replied to him, "not three in the afternoon."

Boom! It's the second time that we've heard about Mayo getting sonned by an NBA legend this month (remember this?!). And it's a good illustration of why Kobe has been such a dominant basketball player for almost two decades now. He never, ever, ever stops working and trying to get better. So why should we start doubting him now? It's clear that he's coming to the end of his career. But it's also clear that he's going to do everything in his power to overcome his Achilles injury and get back on the basketball court.

There were some other interesting tidbits that appeared in the SI story, too. Here are a few of them:

-Spike Lee asked Kobe to play the part of Jesus Shuttlesworth in his film, He Got Game, before he asked Ray Allen. Kobe turned him down.

-Kobe learned how to stand up to challenges all the way back in 1983 when he was just 4. His karate master put him up against a brown belt and, despite the fear that he felt before he got his ass kicked, he remembers thinking that it "wasn't as bad as I imagined."

-Kobe didn't score a single point in the Sonny Hill Community Involvement League in Philadelphia when he took part in it in 1991.

-Kobe's 7-year-old daughter Gianna plays soccer and competes just like her dad. "She doesn't look at you," he says. "She's there to kick your butt."

Hopefully, we will be seeing Kobe back out on the basketball court soon. In the meantime, you can check out the rest of the SI piece over here. After reading it, it's hard not to respect all the work Kobe puts in, regardless of whether or not you're a fan of his.

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[via Sports Illustrated]