He’s been balling for a dirty dozen, and what does he have? Three rings and one abiding passion: to win. Kobe sits down with Complex founder Marc Ecko to discuss legacy, image and who can do more push-ups. via Complex

Like a lot of NBA fans, I went through the cynical thing with Kobe. The hate bandwagon was easy: Mr. Popular. Mr. Best-Dressed. Everything too good to be true. The best thing since Jordan. But after all the obstacles he’s faced-the media, the scandal, beef with his team (and ex-teammates)-you start to take inventory, and he’s fucking undeniable. He fell down, got some blood in his mouth, and he got up, no different from anyone else who loves his job. I’ve come to like and respect him immensely, and I attribute that all to what he’s given us on the court.

He’s become authentically who he is: that guy who just wants to win. He’s one of the finest and most mature players on the court, and one of the most disciplined athletes in the world. You just gotta give it up to him. He is the league. Greatness is measured in backing up your promise, and that’s exactly what he does. He’s a throwback to that generation that died with Jordan. And he’s living up to that more than any other player right now. There’s a purity there. Even as he enters the second half of his career, he’s still what’s next.