HONOLULU — Just as nearly everyone here slept comfortably in their beds, Kobe Bryant woke up to prepare for something that has consumed him nearly his entire life.
The Lakers star trained.
He woke up at an ungodly hour for an individual workout to strengthen his body, most notably the surgically repaired right shoulder he has rehabbed in the past eight months. Bryant then arrived to practice early for an individual shooting workout to accelerate his rhythm. The Lakers’ star then participated in most of the Lakers’ 2 1/2 hour practice that started at 11 a.m, which consisted of full-court 5-on-0 and 5-on-5 drills.
“I felt pretty good,” Bryant said on Wednesday after the Lakers practiced here at Stan Sheriff Center. “I was moving well and could get the spots I wanted to and do what I wanted to on the floor.”
It may seem like a heavy workload for the Lakers’ 37-year-old guard considering his season has ended abruptly for three consecutive years because of ailments to his left Achilles tendon, left knee and right shoulder. But that explains why Bryant skipped portions of the Lakers’ conditioning drills and layup lines. Bryant also will rest during the Lakers’ evening portion of practice, a two-hour session Lakers coach Byron Scott plans to devote toward technical drills.
In between his first and second days of practices, Bryant has undergone repeated treatment that includes modalities, massages and ice bags.
“It was good,” Bryant said. “But honestly my summer regimen was much worse.”
It appears Bryant wants to push the envelope in strengthening his body and shedding off rust, while trimming his workload. But during portions of the Lakers’ scrimmage that were open to reporters, Bryant adopted a less-is-more approach.
The Lakers’ star dismissed playing at small forward instead of shooting guard, noting he has played that position before “in the last 10 years.” But as he played with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert, Bryant did not shoot at all, let alone touch the ball.
“I don’t think it matters, man. You play the flow of the game and see what comes,” Bryant said. “I don’t have to handle the ball at all. That leaves more time to catch and shoot.”
Bryant still provided a presence where he frequently shouted out defensive coverages. Of course, teammates have noticed his intensive practice itinerary. Randle came with Bryant to practice early, while Metta World Peace was already working out in the weight room.
“It was fun,” Bryant said. “At the end, we got a chance to go up and down a bit. That was good.”