For those Lakers fans believing Kobe Bryant has undersold his rehab progression on his left Achilles tendon so he can over deliver in the Lakers’ season opener Tuesday against the Clippers at Staples Center, here’s a daily dose of reality.
“There will be no Willis Reed tomorrow night,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, referring to former New York Knicks forward limping toward the court in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals after nursing a torn muscle in his right thigh. “We’re not trying to hide or pull a curtain back like the Wizard of Oz. There’s nothing behind the curtain. He’ll go when he can go.”
Bryant spent Monday’s practice on the anti-gravity treadmill instead of actually participating in practice. The Lakers maintain he hasn’t experienced any setbacks because he’s still medically cleared to run on the court and that Bryant chose to run on the weight-bearing treadmill on his own. This appears to fit Bryant’s latest strategy in which he revealed he “scaled back” his activity after participating in light jogging and shooting drills last week during the end of the Lakers’ nine-day trip in China.
“He pushed it pretty good, but now he’s trying to settle in and then he’ll up it again,” D’Antoni said. “I think there will be starts and ends. That’ the way it goes. He’ll have to monitor it. He knows better than anybody so he’ll know what to do.”
Still, don’t expect Bryant to return anytime this week with games including Wednesday at Golden State, Friday against San Antonio and Sunday against Atlanta. Bryant has yet to participate in a full practice, and has said he needs at least three weeks of that to restore his conditioning, explosiveness and flexibility in his Achilles tendon.
“I would think he has to at least pick the ball up and shoot some,” D’Antoni said, laughing. “We can convene a special practice for him if we need to if he’s ready to go.”
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