Archive for the 'Kobe Bryant' Category

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Kobe Shoots

Injury Update: Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers v Memphis GrizzliesLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemKobe Bryant is expected to miss approximately six weeks after undergoing an MRI that revealed a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.

“You hate it for Kobe,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s worked so hard getting back, but he’ll be back. We just have to weather the storm till he gets back.”

Bryant, who hyperextended his knee late in the third quarter at Memphis, returned to finish the game in the Lakers 96-92 win. He played six-and-a-half minutes in the fourth, draining a key three-pointer from 28 feet out with 2:39 left. Bryant tied his season high with 21 points, to go along with five rebounds and four assists.

“I knew he got scared because he hyperextended his knee, but he shook it off,” Pau Gasol said. “He continued to play until the very end, which again, shows how tough Kobe is, how much he’s able to play through and what he’s able to play through.”

Bryant made his season debut on Dec. 8 against Toronto, nearly eight months after tearing his Achilles in April of last season. In six games, Bryant averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds. On Monday at Atlanta, he surpassed Elvin Hayes (54,160) and John Stockton (54,162) for fifth all-time in regular season and playoff minutes combined in NBA history.

With Steve Blake (elbow), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring) still out, the Lakers have just three healthy guards on their roster: Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Nick Young.

“It’s been rough, it’s been rough,” Gasol said. “I was hoping this season (we were) going to be healthier than (we were) was last season, but it’s been one (injury) after another. But it’s not an excuse for us not to go out there and do our best and continue to compete and try to get wins.”

Henry, who had been handling backup point guard duties, moves into the starting lineup alongside Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and Gasol.

Monday Practice Report

Los Angeles Lakers PracticeNearly eight months after tearing his Achilles tendon, Kobe Bryant made his season debut against Toronto on Sunday evening. He played 28 minutes, but acknowledged his body felt fine on Monday post practice.

“It feels good,” Bryant said. “It feels really good, actually. I felt better after the game than I even did before.”

It has been a general progression for Bryant from nearly three weeks ago when he experienced “general soreness” after practicing hard two straight days to just last week to where his range of motion had improved considerably. Now it’s a matter of making adjustments on the floor as he continues to see more court time.

“You go out there and play, see what you can do, see where you’re at now and adjust accordingly,” Bryant said. “I made some pretty good reads and got my guys some pretty good looks, but as far as my floor game, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

He recorded nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, but also committed eight turnovers. Bryant and the coaching staff both understand that it will take some time before he returns to his normal self.

“It’s going to be awhile,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He hasn’t played in eight months. It’ll take awhile for him to get on par, but he’ll get there. It takes everybody to get back in a groove and get his legs. He’ll definitely be better anytime he goes out.”

Along with Bryant still trying to find his timing, the team is also trying to integrate him into the lineup. Pau Gasol stated it would take time for him to be his normal self, too, and to also find a comfort level on the court amongst everybody.

“It’s just positioning and changing rhythms out there,” Gasol said. “I think mainly that’s what it’s going to take – understanding where he’s going to be, where the ball is going to go, the amount of plays and what type of plays we’ll run most often. That’s the bigger challenge we’re going to face.”

With the Lakers about to play five contests in one week, including a road trip that entails four games in five nights, Bryant has his mind set on what he wants to accomplish starting Tuesday night against Phoenix.

“Do the same thing I did in the first game, but just do it better,” Bryant said. “Keep those turnovers under control, get my guys in position to be successful and see if I can make a couple shots in a row.”

Lakers Prep For Raptors, Bryant To Return

Los Angeles Lakers PracticeNearly eight months after tearing his Achilles tendon, Kobe Bryant will make his return against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Replacing his 27.3 points per game from last year hasn’t been an issue thus far through 19 games (10-9 record), as nine different players average at least eight points. The key to the team’s success with Bryant absent from the lineup, according to Jodie Meeks, was their unselfishness.

“Guys sharing the ball,” he said. “We knew we had to do it by committee. We have to play that way the whole season and I think we’ll be fine.”

With numerous players stepping up, the Lakers have won six of their last eight games, including three straight on the road after Friday’s win at Sacramento. What will be the biggest challenge in incorporating Bryant back into the mix?

“Just to integrate him,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s a big piece. You throw that boulder in the water and there will be some serious ripples. Adding a big piece like this, everybody has to adjust a little bit.”

The coaching staff, however, maintained the offense won’t change one bit when Bryant returns.

“He can get 40 in any offense so it doesn’t matter,” D’Antoni said. “Our offense is designed to help the other guys get their shots and keep it going. We’ll use the same thing. There might be points of emphasis in the schemes we have with Kobe, and it’ll be a little different, but it’s still the same schemes.”

What might change is how Bryant chooses to approach the game, whether that be scoring or facilitating. D’Antoni believes he’ll opt for the latter, since he’ll likely have the ball in his hands more often and try to find a comfort level on the court. With Steve Nash doubtful and Jordan Farmar ruled out of Sunday’s game, some of the playmaking duties will fall on Bryant’s shoulders.

“I think that’s most of what he’ll do to start with to try and get in a rhythm,” D’Antoni said. “He was doing that last year. The last 40 games that’s what he did mostly. Everybody should be a benefactor of it.”

D’Antoni hinted that Meeks will likely move to the bench, with Bryant sliding into the starting unit alongside Steve Blake, Wesley Johnson, Pau Gasol and Robert Sacre, who made his first start of the season at Sacramento. The coaching staff has been pleased with Sacre’s development thus far on both sides of the ball, citing his energy and activity, particularly on the defensive end.

“He’s a good fit for Pau (Gasol) because he gives a physical presence under there,” D’Antoni said. “He can take the tough guy defensively. He really runs the floor well. He understands the offense and how he wants to do it. He’s a great dive guy so it opens up a lot of shooters … and he finishes well now. He’s a better offensive player than people give him credit for. Defensively, he’s good, and that’s what we need.”

D’Antoni acknowledged there haven’t been any tough moments through this whole process in trying to integrate Bryant back into the fold. That is, in large part, due to the players, he said.

“They have a great spirit among themselves, whether they play five minutes or 20 minutes, they are all in,” D’Antoni said. “When that happens, there are really no tough moments. We’re just trying to win and get better, and we’re doing that.”

Bryant Nears Return

ts_131205kobebryant670Kobe 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.”

Bryant Practices For Second Straight Day

blog_131204kobeFor the second straight day, Kobe Bryant hit the practice floor as the Lakers prepped for Friday’s game at Sacramento. He went through an extensive session on Tuesday with no setbacks, an indicator his return will come sooner rather than later.

“He feels good,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Bryant. “He had a good practice (yesterday). He’ll practice today full bore and see how he feels tomorrow.”

Bryant’s return is still uncertain, but Pau Gasol elaborated on the importance of the next two days for Bryant, as well as the entire team, before the Lakers hit the road.

“Ten days ago, we (got) a good couple practices in. Yesterday was really good and really positive. I saw him playing better, doing more things, being more explosive. He’s been a really good contributor. He’s been facilitating the ball, he’s been a leader on the floor, which he has always been, and it’s great to see him out there.”

Gasol was quick to point out that Bryant’s presence in the lineup will boost the team’s level of play, regardless of what he can bring to the table.

“He’ll be a benefit no matter what,” Gasol stated. “Just his presence will pick everybody’s energy up and spirit up. We’ve been playing with energy, but with him on the floor, it could be a lot higher.”

Though no definite timetable has been set, Gasol wants Bryant to be 100 percent ready before stepping onto the floor, being wary of not rushing back too fast, too soon.

“I want him to be completely comfortable and confident he can play and do whatever he needs to do out there without any setbacks,” Gasol said. “That’s the perfect scenario. We don’t want him to play Friday if he’s not ready to play Friday. We don’t want him to play Sunday if he’s not completely ready to play Sunday. Whenever he comes and plays, I want him to stay there and continue to play the rest of the year.”

Kobe Bryant Returns to Practice

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles LakersLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemFor 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.”

How 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.”

Kobe Goes Out of the Country

Bryant Has Third-Most Jersey Sales Worldwide

ts_131003kobe_jersey670Kobe Bryant came in at No. 3 for most popular jersey sales worldwide for the 2012-13 season, according to a release from the NBA. Derrick Rose and LeBron James came in at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. The rankings are based on Adidas global sales in advance of the NBA Global Games, which tips off Oct. 5.

Bryant also had the third-most jersey sales in China, Europe and the Philippines and the second-most jersey sales in Latin America. Teammate Steve Nash had 11th most worldwide, while Pau Gasol had the fifth-most sales in Europe.

The Lakers, along with 11 other NBA teams, will play a combined 10 preseason and regular-season games in 10 cities in seven countries as part of the 2013-14 Global Games schedule. L.A. will face Golden State in Beijing on Oct. 15 and again in Shanghai on Oct. 18 as part of their preseason slate.

Bryant Transcript, Media Day 2013

blog_130928kobeLakers guard Kobe Bryant addressed assembled media members during the Lakers annual media day. He answered questions about his health, his outlook on the season and what he expects out of some of the new additions on the team. Below is a transcription of his comments:

Q: On why he continues to play basketball, even after an injury like this:
Bryant: I enjoy playing. That’s the thing, I just love the game of basketball and I love everything that comes along with it. It’s very easy for me to get up in the morning and get to work.

Q: On his rehab during the summer:
Bryant: I’ve been here with Judy. Judy, she’s traveled with me absolutely everywhere and I’ve been with her here every single morning throughout the course of the summer, so it’s been good.

Q: On if this team will play with a chip on their shoulder considering where pundits believe they’ll finish:
Bryant: It comes with the territory. When you hear people always singing your praises, you got to find a chip from somewhere. So I think every team tries to do that. For us, I just think it’s very easy to find that chip.

Q: On the team’s expectations this year:
Bryant: Our expectations are always the same going into every single season: It’s to improve every day with the goal in mind of winning a championship. It doesn’t matter what anybody else is saying, that’s the goal that we have. But the only way that you can do that is by coming out every single day and putting the work in and understanding each other and how to support each other and things like that.

Q: On when he expects to return from his injury:
Bryant: My goal is to play tonight. So, it’s about being smart about it and pacing it the right way and just seeing how it does. It’s really a strength thing now and just seeing how the explosiveness holds up and how the recovery holds up after that.

Q: On his progression from when he first tore the Achilles till now:
Bryant: Everybody was really concerned about this injury, and so was I, but the procedure and the therapy right afterwards and things like that really got me ahead of the curve so, it feels like the hard part’s over.

Q: On jumping off the diving board in his Vine video:
Bryant: That was fun. I got out and I jumped again. I just didn’t Vine that one. I felt great. I just wanted to go out and have fun. I was going to do a flip, but I said, ‘Nah, I probably shouldn’t.’

Q: On how far along he is in his rehab:
Bryant: I’m not really sure how to answer that question. I feel good. I don’t think we really have a particular timetable as far as where I should be right now, but I’m feeling good.

Q: On how of this injury is more mental compared to the physical aspect of it:
Bryant: The mental aspect of it I don’t concern myself too much with. I can’t do anything about it. If I’m going to hurt something, I’m going to hurt something so I don’t waste my time really thinking about that. But, I do need to get in shape. I will get in shape. It doesn’t take me too long to do that. I really work hard at it and when I get back out there on the court, I’ll be good to go. I don’t think I’ve ever really played a season where I’m 100 percent, so, 78 (percent) is fine.

Q: On if he’ll wait till he sees his team needs him or will he completely wait till he’s ready to go:
Bryant: I’ll wait until I’m ready and then I’ll get out there and go. Like I said, expectations are to win a championship. That’s our expectations. So, if we’re struggling and I can’t go because I’m not physically ready, I’m not going to jump out there. If it’s ready, I’ll be out there. If it’s not, I won’t.

Q: On the next step for him in his rehab:
Bryant: Getting out and doing some defensive work and doing some running on the court. Kind of doing conditioning a little bit.
Just doing some of the ladder drills, I’ve been on the court a little bit. But nothing more besides that.

Q: On if he’s off the AlterG (anti-gravity) treadmill yet:
Bryant: Not running full sprints. Not yet.

Q: On if he’s drawn any inspiration from athletes who have dealt with a similar injury:
Bryant: There’s a lot of guys I’ve spoken to who have had this injury, David Beckham in particular, he came back just fine, won multiple championships after that. So, I can draw from that a little bit.

Q: On if he feels any pressure to return sooner for this team:
Bryant: I’m not really feeling pressure from it. I know what we can do. I feel very comfortable. I feel very poised about it. I think the team feels the same way. I’m not really concerned.

Q: On the numerous offseason additions:
Bryant: We filled the holes we were weak at last year in terms of length and athleticism and covering ground, especially defensively. When you have those guys that have that length and that speed and can close out to shooters and then shut down penetration on the rotation, it makes a big, big difference.

Q: On the importance of the numerous guys returning:
Bryant: It’s guys that kind of understand each other already and then you’re bringing in the new guys, but because of the relationship that we’ve had in the past, we already have an idea of what our culture is. So, now it’s just bringing the new guys into that.

Q: On some of the new offseason additions and what they can provide defensively:
Bryant: I think you got to look at Nick Young, you got to look at Wesley Johnson and teaching them the fundamental skills and kind of the intelligence of how to play angles defensively. So it’s on us to kind of train them up a little bit, it’s on me to kind of teach them various things and tricks or whatever to try to get them to that point.

Q: On him playing more of a vocal role on the bench, like a player coach:
Bryant: I’ve been doing it since Phil was here and as the years have kind of gone on and the more and more I learned from him, the more and more responsibilities he gave me. So now, I think it’s just becoming a little bit more evident because of the injuries I had last year, people see me on the sidelines doing a lot of that but it’s a position that if you’re a leader of a team, you got to do that type of stuff. You got to be able to put guys in the right positions and try to put them in positions where they can be successful.

Q: On what a full training camp and preseason will do for this team:
Bryant: It’s going to be good to have this training camp and knowing what system we’re going to be running, knowing what style of play we want to use. It’s really just about blending the talents that we have.

Q: On how this team, with the personnel they have, will play this season:
Bryant: We’re going to play exactly how we finished off last year: Playing with a tempo that’s right for us. We’re not an up-and-down, run-and-gun type of team by any stretch of the imagination. But, we’ll use the strengths that we have. Pau’s a good post player. I’m a good post player. Steve in pick-and-rolls can be effective. But you’ll see us really dominating the game from the inside.

Q: On if he plans to coach in the future:
Bryant: Nope. I enjoy it, but I enjoy coaching kids more.

Q: On any concerns going into the season:
Bryant: Health is always a concern. That can really cripple a team, as it did for us last year. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with those issues and won’t have guys who are out for long periods of time.