Since tearing his left Achilles tendon seven months ago, Kobe Bryant on Saturday participated for the first time in practice, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Bryant did not speak with the media following Saturday’s practice, but told reporters as he walked out of the team’s practice facility that “it was time” to test his surgically-repaired Achilles and that he would see how he felt on Sunday.
Although the 15-time All-Star only took part in 5-on-0 half-court drills and shooting, his teammates were excited to see him rejoin them on the court.
“He looked really good. He looked like Kobe,” Pau Gasol said. “It was the first time he was actually out there, and I was very happy to see him. I’m looking forward to seeing him do more out there.
“It was all half-court things, it was all very contained. But I think it was a great step forward. I hope that he reacts well to it and continues to build on it.”
Over the past few weeks Bryant had been steadily increasing the workload in his rehabilitation to two-three workouts per day, and Saturday marked the first time he participated in any time of practice with his teammates.
“He was out there making shots, basically being himself, just at a slower pace,” Xavier Henry said. “He’ll be all right sooner or later. He’s of course not 100 percent, but to see him out there — it helps.”
Although he was able to practice, Bryant still has yet to set a date for his return to the court.
Los Angeles has struggled to start the season with a 4-7 record with Bryant out and now with Steve Nash out for at least another week due to nerve root damage in his back. In their absence, Gasol, who is also working his way back from offseason surgery on both knees, has struggled to produce as the team’s focal point in the offense as he is posting career lows in points (13.1), field goal percentage (.393), and minutes (28.8).
With that said, it is evident that Bryant’s return to court is much needed to help the Lakers turn around their season.
“We know he’s working hard and trying to get back from this,” Henry said. “He can still teach us things when he’s not 100 percent. He’s somebody all of us look up to and want to be like and wanna play better to help him as he helps us.”
Nonetheless it is an encouraging sign for the Bryant to be practicing, as it is another step closer to his return to the court.
Photo Credit: Lakers.com