On Tuesday, the doors to the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice floor opened, and Kobe Bryant was playing 5-on-5 full contact basketball. Bryant grabbed a rebound, passed off a few assists, and talked all types of trash to his opposition.
The Black Mamba was in fine form with local and international media looking on. However, he would not address the media before leaving the facility, and questions asking whether Bryant would return on Friday at Sacramento fell to his teammates and coaches.
“He looked pretty good. He looked good. He looked really good, actually,” teammate Pau Gasol said about Bryant after practice. “You can tell he’s been working a lot on his own.”
When asked in Spanish if he believed Bryant would play on Friday, Gasol responded “Si.”
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was a bit more hesitant and preached patience. He anticipates Bryant will undertake two more practices on Wednesday and Thursday before even considering a return. D’Antoni would not rule out Friday, but he cautioned pushing or setting a timeline.
In other encouraging news, Steve Nash returned to practice on Tuesday. After missing nearly a month, the 39-year-old point guard took part in Tuesday’s practice and played 10 minutes of the scrimmage. Gasol said Nash did not look as good as Bryant, but the Spaniard appreciated having the Canadian back.
“It’s probably very unlikely, very doubtful,” Nash said about playing on Friday.
The Canadian explained that the plan was to increase minutes in practice as the week wears on. Then, Nash was asked if he would be willing to possibly play off the bench and adjust his role upon eventually returning.
“I’ll do whatever I can do to help the team, but the first thing is I got to try to get in a position where I can sustain the demands of the game,” Nash responded. “I’m not in any great position right now. I’m better…I’m trending in the right direction.”
Nash may be doubtful to return on Friday, but Bryant looks poised to make a comeback. Whether it ends up being Friday on the road or Sunday at home, Tuesday’s practice hinted it would not be long until the Black Mamba returns.