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Kobe Bryant doesn't plan to retire until he's 40

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has shed all the talk of early retirement and now plans on playing until age 40, according to ProBasketballTalk.

Bryant will be 36 years old when his current contract expires, and he had previously spoken on numerous occasions of making that season the final year of his playing days. But the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard as well as his rejuvenated physical condition have caused the Black Mamba to reconsider his original claim.

"My aim is to play until I'm 40 years old and I believe I can do that, he told a reporter from CNN Turkey. "This year, we added very good players to our squad. Steve Nash, Dwight Howard will make us stronger. Right now, things are not going very well but I believe it'll get better soon."

Though the Lakers are struggling mightily at 1-3 to begin the season, Bryant is looking spry and has put together a solid first three games in 2012-13. He is averaging 26.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest despite being hobbled by a nagging foot injury that has him in obvious pain.

Bryant's unparalleled competitive spirit is the likely cause of this sudden change of heart, but it will be a tall order for the NBA veteran to maintain a level of play up to his own lofty standards for that long. If anyone can defy the odds, however, it's Bryant.