Kobe Bryant, out since April with a torn Achilles tendon, says he is feeling so strong that he could make his season debut with the Los Angeles Lakers before December.
Bryant is not yet prepared to set a definitive timeline for his return, saying he still needs to gain more strength in the impacted area. But the progress he has made–playing 5-on-5 with no limitations–has been encouraging.
“I think there’s areas where it still needs to get stronger in terms of the jumping and being able to plant quickly and change directions and things like that,” he said. “Those are areas where you just have to get stronger. But I could adjust my game and play at a pretty high level right now.”
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he has been “pleasantly surprised” by how well the superstar guard has responded increased participation since being cleared Saturday for all basketball activities.
D’Antoni stressed that the Lakers’ plan is to be cautious with Bryant, but also noted that he was “surprised” at how good he looked in practice Tuesday.
“He hasn’t played since April but he looks pretty good,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t know why that surprises me, but it does. He was up and down pretty good. A little rusty here and there, but good.”
When asked if he noticed any of Bryant’s teammates taking it easy on him, or if he was worried about pushing Bryant too hard, D’Antoni laughed and said, “No. They better beat him up while they can because after he gets back they won’t be able to.”
Bryant said: “There’s certain things that I used to do that I can’t do now. I won’t try to do them. You’ve got to figure out other ways.
“I just got to go with the flow and just react. If you have limitations, you have to be honest with yourself and self-assess. If you have those limitations, you have to figure out a way to be effective around those. You can’t be stubborn about it.”