Patience is not something you normally associate with Kobe Bryant. He’s a win-now type of guy, and for him time is of the essence. But recently he seems to be surrendering to the fact that his repaired Achilles tendon is far from being completely healed.
Bryant was asked by Ernie Johnson on NBA TV’s “Game Time” Tuesday if he had a time frame on his return to the court, and the Lakers superstar says no date has been set despite reports that he may be ready to rejoin his team by mid-November after he posted a cryptic message on his Twitter page that read “#blackout #bearhunting.”
“I’m pushing it. This past week felt pretty good,” Bryant said. “We’re all being very smart about the process, taking our time and making sure I come back ready to go.
“It’s tough just because as a competitor, you want to get out there, help your team contribute and see what you can do. But at the same time, you have to use that competitiveness to take your time and be patient, and make sure when you come back, you come back as strong as possible to help the team be successful.”
As much as Lakers fans and the basketball world would love to see Bryant return this month or be ready by the time the Lakers take on defending champ Miami on Christmas Day, Kobe sounds like he’s not going to jump ahead of the process and force the issue just to play this year.
He tore his Achilles in April and the rehabilitation process normally takes about 8-9 months. Dominique Wilkins was the quickest to recovery, coming back in eight months. Even if Kobe breaks the record for quickest to recover from an Achilles tear there is no guarantee that he’ll be the same player. A ruptured Achilles is one of the most devastating injuries to an athlete, even worse than an ACL or MCL tear. It ended Isiah Thomas’ career and it basically accelerated Patrick Ewing’s retirement.
Bryant will soon realize that he’ll have to adjust his game because he won’t be able to explode to the basket and the normal lift on his jump shots will be hindered.
“I grew up understanding the fundamentals of the game, having good footwork and spacing, timing and things of that nature,” Bryant said. “I figure I could adjust my game to whatever it is I could do physically.”
As for his cryptic Twitter messages, Bryant joked that the “#1225” hashtag is the birthday of his dog and not the date of his return or the fact that ESPN had the Lakers as the 12th-ranked team and Bryant as the 25th-best player this season. Bryant may be late to the dance on this Twitter thing, but he has become a hashtag master and everyone on social media can’t get enough of his tweets.
Kobe on Dwight’s departure
Bryant admitted that he and Dwight Howard clashed in the beginning, but they eventually figured out a way to coexist as Lakers teammates and made a playoff push. And if it weren’t for his injury, Bryant was convinced that a full Lakers squad would have given the Spurs a better playoff series.
“We have two different personalities,” Bryant said about Howard and himself. “There’s a certain way that I believe you have to approach the game in order to win championships. He had a different way that he felt like would work best, and because of that it was tough to see eye to eye on a daily basis.
“In the second half of the season we played pretty darn well. To go from where we were, being out of the playoffs at the All-Star break to getting into the playoffs. Unfortunately, I went down with an injury. But had I not I think we would have given San Antonio a serious run.”
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.