According to the Los Angeles Times, Bryant plans to be in uniform and playing on Tuesday when the Lakers travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. He wouldn’t confirm his return as definite, but after 18 days of resting his balky left ankle, he feels it’s ready to go.
"It should be,” Bryant told the Times. “If not, I'm firing everybody."
Bryant was going to attempt to play last Tuesday against Golden State, but his ankle didn’t respond in practice the day before. After the additional week of rest, he was back at practice Saturday, playing in a light scrimmage but sitting out conditioning drills.
Despite not wanting to overwork the ankle his first day back, Bryant was pleased with how it responded as he was able to drive and push off of his left foot when needed.
"I got that I'm able to play," he said. "The ankle was still a little sore at certain points, but it went away. It didn't linger or anything like that. So I was able to move and pretty much do anything I wanted."
The ankle was initially sprained Jan. 29 in Philadelphia, but the 2009 Finals MVP struggled through four more games before deciding to shut it down. If Bryant does make it onto the court Tuesday, it will be his 1,000th career game.
The return of Bryant and his 28 points per game couldn’t come at a better time for the Lakers. One of the players charged with replacing his minutes and numbers, Sasha Vujacic, will be held out for a couple of weeks to nurse a shoulder injury he picked up against Boston.
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