NBA welcomes Kobe Bryant’s return with free throw compilation

Amid the change in hairstyle and facial features, Kobe Bryant still offers the same steely image at the free throw line.

He dribbles and stares the ground. Bryant squares up and looks at the basket. Then he hoists the shot into the hoop. Bryant’s career 83.8 percent mark from the foul line hardly serves as his defining legacy. Five NBA championships, a fourth-place list on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and an unmatched determination to overcome injuries fits that bill.

But with Bryant playing tonight when the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center in what will mark his first game since tearing his left Achilles tendon, it’s fitting the NBA presented a compilation video of Bryant making free throws through 17 NBA seasons. Shortly after rupturing his Achilles, Bryant still maintained enough composure, pain threshold and focus to knock down two free throws in an eventual win against the Golden State Warriors to keep the Lakers’ playoff hopes alive. Bryant then walked off the court on his own essentially on one foot.

Eight months later, Bryant has healed his Achilles enough to walk back on the court in hopes of providing even more iconic memories

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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