Bryant Completes Full-Speed Practice

Mike Trudell HeaderMike Trudell Lakers Reporter Header

The lead story all season in LakersLand has revolved, of course, around Kobe Bryant and when he'll return to the court with his repaired left Achilles tendon.

After his second practice on Tuesday (Bryant's first practice came on Saturday prior to Sunday's game and Monday's off day) at the team's facility went quite well, his being announced in the starting line up appears increasingly imminent.

Bryant looked like ... well ... Kobe Bryant in the limited portion of practice media was able to watch (see video below), doing everything from cutting, jumping, twisting, sprinting and the like. The 18-year veteran said he's "pleasantly surprised" with how he's moving, and several of his teammates raved about how surprised they were to see him operating with such fluidity after seven months of rehabilitation.

His coach, Mike D'Antoni, does want to be careful despite being impressed with Bryant's play on the court.

"He looked real active," said D'Antoni. "But again, I just want to urge caution because we’re going to take it easy. "I know it’s hard to with all the speculation, but this is one good step, but he needs (to make) a few more steps."

As a bottom line, could Bryant envision himself playing in November*?
*The Lakers play on Nov. 22, 24, 26, 27 and 29.

"Yeah, I can," he nodded.

To make sure you don't miss anything No. 24 said, here's a full transcript of his post-practice interview:

Q: On how he feels he is practicing right now:
Bryant: I’m pleasantly surprised how I’m moving. It’s always different once you get out there and start playing.

Q: On if cautious is the right word for him at this time:
Bryant: Yeah, that’s always a big key. Taking it piece-by-piece, day-by-day. Today was a pretty good start.

Q: On his conditioning level:
Bryant: I felt fine. I’ve been doing a great deal of conditioning so I didn’t feel tired. My legs didn’t feel tired at all.

Q: On if he had to hold back at all during practice:
Bryant: No, not really. I just went out there and played and tried to do what I normally do, and try to figure out some things about my game, what I can do at this stage, what I can’t do at this stage.

Q: On how it felt for him mentally to just get out there and practice:
Bryant: It felt good to compete, move around, play with my guys, play against my guys. It feels good to just get out there and move.

Q: On if he’s anxious to return:
Bryant: Of course, of course. That’s definitely something we’re chomping at the bit a little bit. We’ve come so far, we have to make sure when we step out there, we’re ready to go the long haul and it’s not something we have to monitor

Q: On if there are any limitations as to what he can and cannot do now:
Bryant: I wouldn’t say limitations. I think there are still areas that need to be stronger in terms of jumping, being able to plant quickly, change directions and things like that. Those are areas you just need to get stronger, but I can adjust my game and play at a pretty high level right now.

Q: On how his ankle feels in terms of range of motion:
Bryant: It feels fine. The ankle feels good. We did a really good job. The range of motion is good. The big thing, obviously, is after today (to) see how it feels later on in the day and see how it feels tomorrow. We’ll do a bunch of work on it today and tonight, and see how it feels tomorrow.

Q: On how he felt the day after Saturday’s practice:
Bryant: It felt fine. I’ve been training pretty damn hard.

Q: On if he was surprised about anything he could:
Bryant: No, not really. Honestly I wasn’t really looking for doing things I was doing well. I was kind of looking for things that I can’t do and areas where I need to get a little stronger.

Q: On if he knows any possible target date on when he wants to return:
Bryant: I don’t know. It’s tough to say. I have to monitor how it goes today and see if I can come back tomorrow and go full bore.

Q: On the question marks around him coming into today and where he feels he’s at now:
Bryant: (Figuring out) whether or not I’m the 25th best player in the world.

Q: On where he’s at mentally and trying to play at the level he knows he can play:
Bryant: You just have to go with the flow and just react. You have limitations and you have to self-assess and be honest with yourself. If you have those limitations, you have to figure out a way to be effective around those. You can’t be stubborn about it. If there are certain things I used to do I can’t do now, I won’t try to do them. You have to figure out another way.

Q: On if there is anything that he did today that made him realize he made more progress in certain areas that he thought otherwise:
Bryant: I’m a lot, lot stronger – a lot, lot stronger. I’m able to hold defenders off pretty easily with my off hand and maintain position in the post and things like that. I’m much, much stronger.

Q: On his return being based on the mindset he’ll do so when he feels like he can dominant again:
Bryant: My responsibility is to make life easier for my teammates. That’s really been my job. That’s Pau (Gasol’s) job. To command double-teams, to command defenses where you can get your guys open looks and high-percentage opportunities. If I can step on the floor and do that, that’s an accomplishment.

Q: On if he feels like he can play at a dominant level when he returns:
Bryant: I don’t know. We’ll see. It’s always different when you get on the practice floor and perform and it’s always different when the game actually starts. It remains to be seen.

Q: On a renewed appreciation being away from the game for an extended period of time:
Bryant: There’s always a much greater appreciation cause you understand the mortality that comes along with it. Kind of being on that doorstep so it’s always a sense of enjoyment when you actually come back.

Q: On walking out to the practice court with the team:
Bryant: It felt good. You put the jersey on and you walk out to practice. It felt like it was 1997 again and I was getting my first start as a pro.

Q: On what sense he got from his teammates on Saturday:
Bryant: They knew when I came in, they saw me grabbing my jersey and they knew I was going to be out there on the court. They knew they had to bring their A-game.

Q: On his relationship with Steve Nash as he tries to recover from his injury:
Bryant: Steve and I have been extremely close through this process. Just talking, just talking. The last few games, he and I have been in the back watching the game, talking about the game, talking about other things. I understand the frustration that comes along with it.

Q: On if he thinks Nash can return from his current injury:
Bryant: Sure, that’s part of our job as teammates is to pick each other up and put him in position to where he can be extremely efficient and extremely successful. It’s about us covering for each other.

Q: On what he envisions from this group in the Western Conference:
Bryant: I don’t know. I still have to figure it out. The West is obviously very deep and the important thing is to not focus on what the West looks like. You have to focus on yourself and play the schedule you have.

Q: On Jordan Hill and what he’s given the team so far:
Bryant: Tremendous. He really worked hard this summer and got himself into good shape, shed some weight; he’s extremely strong, (has) long arms, athletic. He has a knack for the ball and is great around the rim. He has a great touch on the low post and a great touch on the perimeter. He’s been a pleasant surprise.

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