Very few things keep Kobe Bryant off of the sideline.
The Lakers wanted him last season to shave his minutes, but Bryant wanted to ensure his team made the playoffs. In past seasons, Bryant’s injuries on his fingers, knees and wrists as well as a concussion only strengthened his resolve to play. And despite suffering what would become a season-ending left torn left Achilles tendon, Bryant initially remembered he thought he could stay on the court.
“When I first did it, right there, I was trying to feel if the tendon is there or if it’s gone,” Bryant recalled, in comments recorded by Nike at the organization’s headquarters in Oregon. “I realized it wasn’t there. I was literally trying to pull the tendon up so hopefully I could walk and kind of hobble through the last two and a half minutes and try to play.”
Bryant almost pulled it off.
He made two signature free throws essentially on one foot in the Lakers’ eventual win April 12 over the Golden State Warriors. It has become an iconic moment and a staple of Bryant’s lore both for helping the Lakers secure a needed win to secure a playoff berth and for providing yet another example that he can play through injuries.
After making the free throws, Bryant then limped off the Staples Center floor amid a rousing albeit worried crowd. Bryant soon found out he’d need surgery and miss the rest of the season.
Since then, Bryant has progressed steadily, running on a weight-bearing treadmill for the past four weeks. Considering he has to resume basketball-related activities, however, Bryant recently expressed uncertainty if he’s suit up for the Lakers’ season opener Oct. 27 against the Clippers.
“‘I don’t know [whether] that means I’ll start the season – I hope so,” Bryant said in a recent interview to Time Out Dubai to promote his upcoming trip there later this month to host a basketball clinic.
Still, as Bryant has proven with everything else, there’s a strong feeling he won’t stay off the court for long. After all, very few things has kept him off of it.
“I’m feeling pretty good,’” Bryant said, ‘stronger than I was. I’m ahead of [my recovery] schedule.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org