For the first time since tearing his Achilles in April, Kobe Bryant returned to the practice floor with his teammates on Saturday afternoon in El Segundo.
It was a relatively light session for the Lakers, consisting mostly of 5-on-0 skeleton drills and some half-court work. Nonetheless, Bryant’s presence was more than a welcome sight for his teammates.
“He looked good and did a few moves I didn’t expect him to do right away,” said Pau Gasol. “I’m very happy for him and for us, and definitely looking forward to when he’ll play in a game.”
“We were just doing drills, nothing 100 percent, but he looked really good,” added Jodie Meeks. “After being out for seven months it’s amazing to see him our there like that.”
Bryant played alongside Steve Blake, Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Gasol in some drills, according to Meeks, and Bryant was doing everything from cutting side-to-side, shooting and running.
“He looked good doing it,” said Meeks. “He was making shots. He’s so intelligent that he helps guys get in the right spots and makes the game a lot easier not only for myself but for the whole team. He’s been in the league for almost 20 years, he knows it all inside and out.”
Perhaps more than anything else, Bryant filled the void he’s filled for several years as the leader of the team, asserting himself from the outset of practice.
“He’s the alpha dog,” Meeks explained. “He tells everybody where to go, gets everyone in the right spots and gives everyone confidence that our leader is coming back soon.”
“I try not to ask him about it because I know everybody else is,” Meeks concluded. “When he comes back we’ll be happy to have him, but until then we’ll just have to keep fighting and try to win.”