Kobe Bryant did not take part in Los Angeles Lakers practice on Thursday due to soreness in his left foot. Bryant was at the facility receiving treatment, but the soreness was expected. After all, Bryant had not played basketball in over seven months before surprisingly turning up at Saturday’s light session.
Since then, Bryant completed two practices which included full-court and half-court full contact drills. Most of his teammates expressed wonderment to see the 35-year-old looking more like his old self than looking old.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni had been consistently working to calm the media frenzy since Bryant initially returned to practice over the weekend.
“I don’t think we should be surprised about anything,” D’Antoni said on Thursday. “It’s a process. You’d be surprised if (Bryant) was going to play.”
“There might be days he’ll have to take off and days he’ll ramp it up,” the coach continued. “But it’s definitely not a surprise.”
“I’m not a doctor, although I studied chemistry some,” D’Antoni joked when asked to explain Bryant's soreness further.
One person who may be an honorary doctor is Bryant’s closest friend on the team, Pau Gasol.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Gasol said after Thursday’s practice. “If (Bryant)’s not going to play tomorrow or the next couple of games, I think it’s good for him to get some good practices in and take a step off, and let’s see how the Achilles reacts and let it calm down and then pick it back up.”
By taking Thursday off, Bryant has recalibrated the media and fans’ expectations. Whereas a few diehards were hoping for a return to action on Friday, Bryant’s decision to rest on Thursday likely also rules him out for the Sunday game against the Sacramento Kings. Sitting out was a smart decision to help ease the physical and mental pressure on Bryant.
After Sunday, the Lakers leave on a three-game road trip before returning for a home game against the Portland Trailblazers on Dec. 1. That seems to be the new popular date for Bryant's return, but that, too, is all speculation. At this point, everyone must wait and see.
Whenever he comes back, the hope is that Bryant will return healthy one time.