Kobe Bryant practiced for the third straight day without any setbacks, a possible return date looming days, not weeks, away, according to coach Mike D’Antoni.
Bryant will not play in Friday’s away game at Sacramento, but Sunday’s home contest against Toronto remains a possibility. Post practice, Bryant explained what he wants to see from himself the next two days should he return.
“Getting a rhythm under my legs, as far as stopping on a dime, raising up and shooting,” Bryant said. “And getting your game legs underneath you where you can shoot a jump shot comfortably.
Two weeks ago, Bryant went through two straight practices when the team had four days off in between games, but skipped out on a third straight practice day because of “general soreness.”
What had improved from then until now?
“My range of motion is a lot better where it’s not after the first day or so, or the last time I practiced, where my range of motion became restricted,” Bryant said. “It became kind of locked up and I wasn’t able to run, change directions or sprint like I wanted to. I don’t feel like I have any limitations, really. The change of gear is not where I want it to be, but it’s easy to compensate and go out there and be effective.”
The ankle joint now, not the Achilles, is where Bryant is still trying to properly work through, in terms of endurance.
“That’s the thing that’s been restrictive,” he said. “You’re talking about months of immobility. You kind of have to work through that a little bit. There’s still some scar tissue there that needs to be broken up and that’s done through movement, therapy and mobilizations.”
Bryant feels he’s conditioned enough now, as he’s put in extra running and weight-room sessions outside of normal practice time with the team, but there is still that final hurdle he needs to clear before declaring himself game-shape ready.
“My sea legs aren’t there yet,” he said. “The pull up jump shots and the fadeaways, my sea legs aren’t quite there yet to be able to do that. We have to see how it feels tonight. I’m going to try and get in another hard session in. Tomorrow morning I’ll try to push it again and same thing tomorrow evening. Just continue to keep on measuring it.”