Game 1,440 was not unlike the others. The Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night. Counting the playoffs, it was Kobe Bryant's 1,440th NBA game. And Bryant was great again. Not just pretty good. Not just flashes of greatness. Great. Still great. Artfully, inspirationally, intensely, winningly great. So great ... and yet not particularly greater than he was in Dallas a few days before, or the game before that with 29 after halftime to beat Portland, or when he twice had 14 assists in back-to-back victories over Utah and Oklahoma City in late January, or the time his fanatical prep work and relentless chasing left Brandon Jennings certain no one in the history of the game had ever defended a point guard that well (and also had 31 on 12-of-19 shooting and six assists), or all of December with Bryant's 33.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists across the board higher than he has averaged in any month in any year of his career. The Lakers' day-to-day struggles have obscured the work of art that Bryant has erected the past four months with those bent and battered fingers and his usual common-man tools of hard work, fundamentals, dedication and desire. For someone with a particular interest in advertising, Bryant ought to understand that what he has built is actually more like a billboard with a sign he cannot, must not, miss. And it says: Retirement should not even be on Kobe Bryant's radar. The legend exists because Bryant has refused to leave bullets in his chamber. And ending his career with so much more gift to be given would be flat-out wrong for a man whose inner underdog spirit has carried him much further than his obvious genetic gifts. Read more: