On Wednesday, Kobe Bryant all but ruled out an opening night return to the Los Angeles Lakers, but he added that he was three weeks away from a potential return and that the only person slowing down the timeline was the five-time NBA champion.
A day after saying he was ahead of schedule, Bryant asked everyone to stop focusing on a timeline. There is no official timeline. Judging by the attitude of the Lakers’ shooting guard on Wednesday, he is not about to rush into a return and risk further injury.
“When I’m ready, I’m ready,” Bryant said when asked about how long he thought it would take him to come back.
So, what will it take the Black Mamba to feel ready?
First of all, he said he needed to get his flexibility and full range of mobility back. Although Bryant sharply stated that he has been running without any support on the anti-gravity treadmill, he has not yet taken full strides on the track or on the hardwood. Further, he has not truly tested his Achilles with jumping to the maximum level.
For anyone wondering, jumping is the true test of the Achilles tendon. Running is an advanced test, but Bryant will not feel truly comfortable about thrusting himself into the concentrated conditioning portion of his rehabilitation until he is jumping without reservations.
Bryant revealed that he has been jumping “a little bit,” but he was quick to add that he had not tried anything “too explosive.” When he was asked about the next step in his rehab, Bryant revisited his earlier response and stated that he needed to regain “explosiveness.”
He needs to jump and dunk.
Once he is back running and jumping without any hesitations, the 35-year-old will require three full weeks of hard conditioning. Bryant’s conditioning and training regimen has always been lauded by those close enough to see him work behind closed doors. He was adamant that three weeks is all it takes to get back into shape, and no one will argue against him on that.
At the moment, however, the only person holding back on entering Mamba training mode is the Lakers’ star himself.
“I have the green light now,” Bryant said regarding medical clearance to start his serious conditioning. “It’s a matter of having the flexibility and strength to run at high speeds out here on the court.”
With his recent tune-up in Germany, Bryant may well begin his conditioning any day. Adding three weeks to the calendar, the earliest Bryant would see the floor is the start of November. Considering there are 82 games in a regular season, don’t be surprised if he takes an extra couple weeks before rushing into his three week fitness program.
Regardless, expect Bryant back wearing purple and gold before Thanksgiving, and that is something everyone can be thankful for this year.
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