Last week the Los Angeles Lakers signed Kobe Bryant to a contract extension that will keep him as the highest paid player in the NBA until 2016, despite Bryant missing the entire first month of the season while rehabbing his Achilles.
But Bryant may be making his return to the court sooner than later, as soon as Friday per head coach Mike D’Antoni via ESPN Los Angeles:
“I don’t want to anticipate anything,” D’Antoni said after practice Saturday. “Those are days that he can work and see, re-evaluate how he feels after the three days and then make a decision going forward.
“That doesn’t mean he will play Friday, doesn’t mean he won’t. But that’s the time you just evaluate, and I can’t tell you what type of evaluation that will be.”
The Lakers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday and don’t play again until Friday, giving Bryant a full week to get further acclimated with his teammates before making his debut.
Bryant has religiously been the alpha dog whenever he’s on the court, so expecting him to play any other way would be foolish. Given that the Lakers don’t have anyone averaging more than 15 points per game — Pau Gasol leads them with 14.3 ppg — so they could possibly benefit from having Bryant’s scoring savvy on the court.
In any case, for Bryant to return from such a devastating injury at 35 in only seven months is incredible. It remains to be seen how good he looks, but history indicates that Kobe will be just as good as ever whenever he does make his debut.
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