El Segundo, Calif. • Although Kobe Bryant is making steady progress in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon, he’s still a few weeks away from playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant is back with the Lakers after a short trip to Germany to get treatment on his right knee, another trouble area for the 35-year-old guard. He sat on Los Angeles’ bench for an exhibition game Tuesday night, and he’ll travel with the team to China later this week.
But the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history isn’t committing to any return date until he gets in shape and figures out how his legs will hold up when he’s back in uniform.
"I haven’t said anything [about a return date]," Bryant said. "I just keep it all open right now. I don’t know why you guys are so hell-bent on deadlines. It’s like the most ridiculous thing to me. It’s entertaining. When I’m ready, I’m ready."
Bryant is running with his full body weight on a special treadmill, and he has done light jogging and calf exercises recently. His repaired Achilles tendon appears to be holding up fine, but six months of relative inactivity — and donuts and sugar cookies — have taken a toll.
"It’s the explosiveness, the muscle," Bryant said. "It takes a little time, and then I’ve got to get my fat [rear] in shape. I was eating whatever the hell I wanted to eat and not running, stuff like that. Caught up to me a little bit."
Bryant said he’ll need roughly three weeks of conditioning to get into game shape, his usual allotment for a return from any extended layoff. The Lakers’ season begins Oct. 29 against the Clippers.
With time to spare in the preseason, Bryant seized the chance to travel to Germany for another round of the platelet-rich plasma treatment designed to stimulate recovery in aging joints. He has had at least three surgeries on the knee over the past decade.
Bryant posted a photo of his German treatment on Instagram, complete with acupuncture needles protruding from the joint. His recovery time from the procedure has been short in the past.
"I’m starting to move a little bit more," Bryant said. "I’m just trying to pick up the pace a little bit more. I’m not where I was the first time I had the [German] procedure done, being able to run as much, but I can do some things."
Bryant has been in near-constant rehabilitation on his Achilles tendon since he had season-ending surgery last April. He’s grateful the finish line is in sight, even if he might not be ready when the Lakers open the regular season.
"I’ll be happy when I’m able to get out on the floor and do what I do best," he said. "All this right now is just all a process to try to get to that point."
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