Kobe Bryant says he's OK with gradual rehabilitation process
Long after practice ended, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant remained on the floor going through a seemingly never-ending routine.
While the media talked with Coach Phil Jackson, partly to talk about Bryant's four-of-28 clip through three exhibition games, Bryant remained on the floor shooting. While the media waited along the sideline to hear the latest on his surgically repaired right knee, Bryant remained on the floor shooting. And while former Laker Rick Fox waited to catch up with his former teammate, Bryant remained on the floor shooting.
Bryant's shooting routine with coach Chuck Person isn't anything new. He normally arrives three to four hours before practice to fit the session in, but he says he saved his routine for after practice Thursday because he wanted to feel energetic enough to play in the team's scrimmage. His focus on wanting to work while blocking everything else around him isn't anything new. That's the Kobe Bryant most people know. His willingness to pace through his rehabilitation process is new, however, considering how it doesn't always exactly fit his want to push himself to the limit seemingly at all costs.
"I've never been frustrated," Bryant said after practice Thursday in the team's facility in El Segundo. "I understand it's a process. I've been through it before, so it's natural to me."
Bryant has kept an even-keel approach about it since the beginning of training camp, when he outlined his approach: "We're trying to take it step by step and continue to try to progress every day, that's all." But given Bryant's overall tendency in trying to push the envelope and his 25-minute effort last week against FC Barcelona, Jackson stressed that he doesn't need to overdo it. Now it appears the two are in agreement that the focus on his preseason doesn't involve shooting numbers so much as it involves his movement.
"He's playing without being quite ready," Jackson said. "He's trying to get some of it in game situations rather than having the ability to practice and do all the things that build up to that where he's in rhythm and shooting the ball right. We're taking a little bit of a shortcut."
That resulted in Bryant continuing to shoot the ball poorly in the Lakers' 98-95 preseason victory Wednesday over Sacramento, going only two of 10 from the field with seven points. So while Bryant's putting in the extra work after practice to improve that clip, he remains satisfied with how he managed to contribute in hustle points and within the offense, as indicated by his four rebounds and two assists. With his plan to play in both exhibition games this weekend, Bryant doesn't plan to change his gradual approach.
"I hardly play in preseason anyway," said Bryant, though his 16.7 minutes per game average this preseason pales to the 26.6 minutes per game he's averaged in other preseasons. "I'll just do what I normally will do."
-- Mark Medina
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