Kobe back on court for first time since April
Five days into the Los Angeles Lakers' training camp, Kobe Bryant took the court for the first time Wednesday.
Bryant didn't practice with his teammates and the Lakers continue to avoid providing a timetable for their star guard's return, but just seeing Bryant do some light jogging and set shooting was a sight for sore eyes for coach Mike D'Antoni.
"He just keeps progressing," D'Antoni said. "He was out today shooting a little bit and jogging. He just keeps getting better."
It was a minor step for Bryant, who has been sidelined from basketball activity since April as he rehabilitates a torn Achilles in his left leg, yet a significant one.
When training camp opened last weekend, D'Antoni told reporters that Bryant had recently upped his workout from 75 percent of his body weight to 80 percent on the team's altered-gravity treadmill. By jogging on the court, he effectively graduated back to his full body weight.
There is still plenty of rehab left for Bryant to do before he is back in full basketball mode, however. His shooting on Wednesday did not involve jumping, for example.
"He's going up on his tiptoes," D'Antoni said. "I don't think he was jumping, but it wasn't flatfooted. It was set shooting."
Any progress is encouraging to a Lakers team that is currently looking to figure out who will start at shooting guard, small forward and power forward alongside Steve Nash at the point and Pau Gasol at center if Bryant is still out to start the season.
"I saw him shoot the ball today for the first time," D'Antoni said. "I don't know if it's the first time, but it's the first time I saw him. So, that's a progression. I'm not in the training room to see what he does every day. Obviously as hard as he's worked, every day he's going to get a little bit better. Now, what that means, I don't know."
Gasol, who has been Bryant's teammate since 2008 and won two championships alongside him, said he can feel Bryant's absence in camp.
"It's definitely different," Gasol said. "He's around but he's not practicing. He's not involved. I know he can't wait to get back on the floor and be with us, but we'll be ready for him to come back. We want him to be ready, not have any setbacks."
Lakers free agent signee Nick Young is trying to speed up that process.
"I've been talking trash to him a little bit to get out there," Young said. "I'm just waiting for him to get out there so I can go out him. I can talk trash now because he can't do anything."
Not that Young, a player who enjoys having the ball, is totally unhappy having more scoring opportunities in a lineup devoid of Bryant.
"When Kobe comes back, a lot of things will change," Young said. "You just have to pick your spots now and try to get comfortable with the position you're in."
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