As Metta World Peace approached his locker, Lakers guard Chris Duhon made sure to provide him a proper introduction.
“Here comes the bionic man,” Duhon said.
World Peace has earned plenty of nicknames, including Wolverine and even Superman, upon his return tonight against the New Orleans Hornets a mere 12 days after having surgery to treat a lateral meniscus tear on his left knee. Apparently, World Peace’s return wouldn’t have been so swift if he hadn’t done some research on the Internet.
“I went online and typed what’s the fastest someone recovered from a meniscus surgery,” World Peace said. “I thought someone would say four weeks. Somewhere I saw a week. So I thought I’m a week type of guy.”
World Peace even tweeted he’d return with a week and a half after his surgery, something he promptly removed after the Lakers estimated he’d stay sidelined for at least six weeks. Instead, World Peace only missed six games.
World Peace offered a simple reason for his swift recovery.
Doctors didn’t find any swelling in his left knee after performing what World Peace called a “scope” on his left knee. Although he didn’t specify the details, World Peace said also immediately began rehabbing his knee asking for instructions from Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti and team physical therapist Judy Seto during a the Lakers’ week-long trip last week.
“They told me my knee is in good shape,” World Peace said. “That’s why I’m confident. They actually saw my knee. A meniscus ins one thing, but the cartilage is different. The doc told me the knee looks good for 14 years for as many minutes I played your knee is in better shape than any other guy I’ve seen.”
Still, World Peace refused to gloat too much about his ability to overcome injuries quickly. Instead, he praised Kobe Bryant by describing him as the “king of recovery” and even proclaiming “he’s played through gun shot wounds.”
World Peace is playing through his injury for one simple reason. The Lakers (40-37) trail the Utah Jazz (41-37) by half a game for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with five games remaining.
“Nobody here is trying to go home early,” World Peace said. “I’ll tell you that. Everybody here is winners.”
The Lakers plan to play World Peace off the bench for about 20 minutes because of the uncertainty surrounding his conditioning level.
“It will take a second to figure out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work,” World Peace said. “I’ll be okay.”
Still, the Lakers would largely welcome his return because of his energy and defensive intensity. The Lakers have also fielded a seven-man rotation during his absence, with Bryant averaging 46.25 minutes the past four games.
“They’re playing a lot of minutes so even if I play 5 or 10 minutes,” World Peace said, “I can at least give Kobe a breather.”
And for the Lakers’ sake, a win.
“It’s a great season. Everybody is excited,” World Peace said. “This is great. I cant tell you exactly how we planned it. But its going to be good.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org