Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers will be thrilled by the news that Kobe Bryant was cleared to resume all basketball activities last week. Having completed his rehabilitation from the Achilles tendon surgery he underwent last season, the Black Mamba returned to practice this past Saturday. While this technically means that Bryant is eligible to play in the Lakers’ next game, it is highly likely that he will ease back into the swing of things.
Although it’s tough to doubt Kobe Bryant’s famous willpower and determination, it would have been very difficult to anticipate the speed with which he’s recovered from this injury. Considering the severe nature of a torn Achilles tendon, many people doubted that even one of the world’s toughest players would be able to recover ahead of schedule.
Despite those long odds, this is exactly what Bryant did. He worked his way through rehabilitation with a determination and level of progress that surprised medical specialists and basketball fans alike. Rather than shying away from the obstacle that he faced, Kobe became very vocal on social media as he updated fans on his rehab process. Now after seven months of hard work for Bryant and anticipation from fans, the Lakers star is finally nearing his return to the court.
Coaches, teammates and fans were excited to see Bryant return to 5 on 5 drills in his first real practice of the 2013-2014 season. This was the first time that Bryant had the chance to practice with his teammates this season and serves as a significant milestone in his recovery. A video of the practice displayed Bryant shooting jump shots and gave no indication of him favoring the injured left ankle as he ran.
Despite these positive signs, it should be noted that the capacity with which Bryant participated was described as limited, according to Sports Illustrated. This stems from the fact that many of the drills were played at a 60% pace and the 5 on 5 drills did not involve intense defense.
D’Antoni Pleads for Patience
As if Laker Nation wasn’t already eagerly anticipating Kobe’s return, the news of his medical clearance has brought the hype to new heights. While coach Mike D’Antoni is just as thrilled as everyone else to see Bryant retake the court, he is stressing caution. Ensuring that Bryant isn’t feeling excess pain or soreness following practices and that he avoids setbacks are priorities for D’Antoni, as cited by ESPN LA.
He recognizes that Bryant’s return is a step-by-step process and that it shouldn’t be rushed. Any kind of rehab can be difficult, and he surely is thankful to be over that step. Although it is a good sign to see his first practice go smoothly, it has yet to be seen whether his surgically repaired tendon is ready to handle the daily pounding that NBA players must endure. It has been suggested that Bryant will need at least two full weeks of practice and preparation before he can suit up for the purple and gold in a real game.
While it seems that the news of Bryant’s return to practice may need to be taken with a grain of salt, it’s hard for Lakers fans to avoid getting excited. Regardless of whether or not he makes the November return that fans are hoping for, we seem to be getting very close to enjoying Bryant’s first game of the season.