Bryant takes off, Timberwolves glad to have landed
In London with the Lakers for an exhibition game Monday with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kobe Bryant practiced again Saturday and looked spry while running up and down the court, the latest sign that his surgically repaired right knee is improving incrementally.
"I’m not ready yet," Bryant said cautiously despite showing an outside touch that looked solid in a scrimmage. "I’m getting there. It’s a process. Today it felt a lot better."
He also showed decent lift while jumping but isn't back to where he was before his knee began bothering him at the end of last season.
Bryant underwernt surgery in July for the third time on the knee.
Forwards Matt Barnes and Luke Walton also practiced Saturday after sustaining mild hamstring injuries a few days ago.
The Lakers thought they had a long trip to England, but their 11-hour direct flight didn’t seem bad at all compared to the itinerary of the Timberwolves.
Unlike the Lakers, who flew a 777 charter jet, the Timberwolves took a much smaller private plane and stopped twice for refueling after leaving Minneapolis — once in Portland, Maine, and again in Iceland.
“It turned into a long day from the time we left Minnesota to the time we got to the hotel,” Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis said.
The team actually got out of the plane and had a brief practice in Maine, but there weren’t many players or team personnel awake when the charter landed a few hours later in Iceland.
“I looked outside,” Rambis said. “There wasn’t a whole lot outside.”
Rambis, by the way, is still being asked about a full-page newspaper ad purchased by the Timberwolves that acknowledged it was unlikely they would win the NBA championship this season, an attempt at honesty and transparency, according to the ad.
Rambis didn’t agree with the message, which ran in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune earlier this month.
“Whomever says those things, I don’t believe it,” he said. “As a competitor, I go into every game, every situation thinking we can win. If we have that type of mindset, you’re going to be in the playoffs.”
-- Mike Bresnahan in London
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant finishes off a dunk against the Celtics in last spring's NBA Finals. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times