Kobe Bryant teased the fans at Staples Center on Friday night when he walked onto the court wearing Lakers warmup sweats prior to the game against the Grizzlies. No, Bryant was not making a surprise return to the court for the Lakers. He was just there to present a check to go to victims of the typhoon in the Philippines.
Bryant was back on the court Saturday, though, returning to practice for the first time since he ruptured his left Achilles tendon in April. There was no contact in the practice as the Lakers ran five-on-none halfcourt drills, but seeing Bryant back on the court was a promising sight for a Lakers team in need of good news.
“He looked really good,” Pau Gasol told reporters. “He looked like Kobe. It was the first time he was actually out there, and I was very happy to see him. I’m looking forward to seeing him do more out there.”
Bryant, 35, has said he is ahead of schedule in the normal 12-month recovery time, but sources told ESPN.com that he is still “a ways away” from being fully cleared. Bryant has been shooting throughout his rehab and told NBA TV that he would play “tonight” if there was a playoff game.
“But it’s not the playoffs, thank God,” Bryant told Rick Fox.