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Patient Kobe hopes to be back for season opener, will recruit Howard

Jun 4, 2013, 10:16 AM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Torn Achilles tendon? Did you really expect such a trivial matter to keep Kobe Bryant out of games?

Kobe had said before his target was to recover from the injury in time to play in the Lakers season opener. He reiterated that to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com — and added he’s going to recruit Dwight Howard to take the court with him.

But the first priority for Kobe is to get healthy and be there when the season tips off.

“I hope so,” Bryant said in a sit-down interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday. “That’s the challenge. With the tendon, there’s really only but so much you can do. There’s a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don’t overstretch it and now you never get that spring back.

“So, you just have to be patient, let the tendon heal, and then when that moment comes when they say, ‘OK, we can take off the regulator so to speak and now it’s on you to train as hard as you can to get back to where you want to be,’ that’s going to be a good day.”

It’s good to hear Kobe really listening to the doctors — this isn’t an injury you can just train your way past. Being patient matters. And being patient sucks, but Kobe is doing it. That’s the key thing.

As for free agent Dwight Howard, who wants to hear from other teams, Kobe is also patient.

“For me, you kind of let him do his due diligence and then move in and talk to him and figure out if this is a place he wants to be,” Bryant said. “We all want him here. But then that’s when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don’t start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.”

We’ll see if Kobe’s plan comes together — if he walks on to the court opening night next to Howard, the Lakers are an interesting and dangerous team. But right now that’s a big “if.”

  1. jack3dsd - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    what if the doctors clear him to play by week 1 but he doesn’t “feel comfortable” playing yet

    • spthegr8 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      @jack
      This Kobe we are talking about. Not D Rose!! If he is cleared to play. Then I’m SURE he will be out there!! IMO, he needs to be patient & listen to his body. No need to rush back. This is a marathon, not a sprint!!!

      • redbaronx - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:28 PM

        @spthegr8 – I agree with you. If Kobe has a chance to be on the floor, he will be. Kobe is definitely not Derrick. No offense to Derrick because Derrick is tough. Derrick just has a different mentality, which ultimately may make him smarter than Kobe in a sense, but Kobe’s stubbornness and resolve in the face of all obstacles is also what makes him great. I just hope he doesn’t push himself to the point of reinjuring himself, though I think he is willing to risk that as he can see that time is short. He’s been talking retirement and I’m sure that he wants to give it all he’s got to get back from the injury and make sure he has no regrets if it doesn’t work out.

      • spthegr8 - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        @redbaron
        Well said sir!! You hit the nail on the head with that comment!!

    • pellypell - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      We could ask his brother if he had one.

  2. thomaskouns - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Kobe – “Yeah Dwight, please come back to the Lakers. You’ll get to play with the oldest starting unit in the league with untradeable contracts, get compared unfavorably to me in the media, I’ll take a lot of your higher percentage inside shots to keep my scoring numbers up and when things go South I’ll rip you through the media.”

    I’m no Howard fan but he should go elsewhere if he’s smart (I’m not sure he is).

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      Those untradeable contracts are all up by 2014, save Nash, who might retire after next year anyway. The Lakers aren’t necessarily in an enviable cap position, but they aren’t Isiah Thomas’ Knicks or Al Davis’ Raiders.

      • thomaskouns - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        So who are the Lakers going to get when those contracts are up? They’ve traded away most of their picks and Duant, Lebron, Rose and nearly all the other big names are under contract.

        And besides the Lakers having a great the ‘name’ and glitz of LA, why would they want to get ripped by their aging star player with likely no talent around them and take all that heat and scrutiny for what – to play in LA?

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        Well, luckily trading away picks doesn’t mean they can’t sign free agents!

        I think it’s clear you really dislike Kobe, but as a Lakers fan, reading the interviews with players every day in the newspaper, he is very supportive of teammates through the media, and his teammates really like him. He has some tough love at times, but overall he’s a very effective leader.

        I think you underestimate the power of great management. Who would have thought that Miami would get LeBron and Bosh? They were coming off a terrible season, without any good players under contract. But when you have a Pat Riley or a Mitch Kupchak, you can make these things happen.

        I also think you underestimate the power of playing in LA. On top of being an absolutely great place to live, there are a lot more endorsement and “extracurricular” financial opportunities in LA than say, oh, Houston or Dallas.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        you are correct, asimonetti88. i don’t think thomaskouns pays attention to history. Talent will continue to flock to the Lakers…

    • bostonsuxbigtime - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      You obviously are very uninformed. All these “untradeable” contracts are expiring next year and the Lakers will be in a great position salary-wise. learn the facts before you post.

  3. bostonsuxbigtime - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Thomas, you must be an uninformed East Coast guy. LBJ can opt out in 2014.

  4. bostonsuxbigtime - Jun 4, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Thomas, you are too easy. Dwight and Kobe are friends, you mo-ron.

  5. teambringitstrong - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Ah, the haters. Get over yourselves. You forget, there are 16 banners hanging from Staples Center. They weren’t won during Kobe’s tenure. You know what that means? The Lakers will bounce back and put the league in a stranglehold again.

    • redbaronx - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      @teambringitstrong – Ah the haters hating on the realists! You forget that 16 banners doesn’t mean winning every year!

      Let’s be real. You can completely forget about next year! Barring some miraculous 7 player trade that salvages 2013/14, the Lakers are not going to be better than they were this year, and my bet is that this will be Kobe’s last year of effectiveness as a superstar. I think he comes back from the injury strong, but I don’t see him keeping it up for longer than a year. You could see the slow down this year just like Mike had it when he was a ‘decent’ player with the Wizards that could give you 22 points on average. And that means the window is closed because you know that without Kobe, this team has Howard (if he resigns) and the senior citizens two years older (Nash…retired, Artest…gone or too old to matter, Gasol…same thing. Etc. etc.) The roster needs major overhaul like it did in 1992 and in 2005.

      So now we’re talking about 2014/15

      My bet is that they will need at least three years before they can even think about getting back into contention, and Kobe is not going to be in that mix. If the Lakers are smart, they’ll clear the decks and nab a couple of stars in the great free agent class of 2014, and put a team together for 2015/16 (probably without Kobe). So three years at best.

      That’s reality……not hating. Sorry to disappoint!

    • jamieaadams - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      If I was a Laker fan (shudder), I’d be plenty worried about the post Jerry Buss era.

  6. thomaskouns - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Is this the same Kobe that ripped Howard and Gasol last year time after time (to the point both mentioned leaving and a team meeting had to be called where Kobe admitted he ‘could be difficult to play with’) and then to add insult to injury started tweeting about the team’s performance in the playoffs until he got called on it enough to stop.

    Yes, all of that obviously had a very positive impact on the team and is a huge recruitment tool for future free agents.

    • bostonsuxbigtime - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      Thomas, guess who was the first teammate to visit Kobe in the hospital after surgery? Gonna make this easy on you…..he proudly wears No. 12

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      It appears as though you’re framing your view of this through your dislike of Kobe. I disagree with what you’re saying. I think your doom and gloom view of the Lakers is a bit biased. Again, the Lakers are not in an unfixable or long term cap situation. I think anyone would admit that Kobe can be difficult to play with. So were guys like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. When you’re that passionate about winning, that obsessed with being better, it’s going to be difficult. To his credit, Dwight has never publicly said anything about not liking Kobe, and has never said anything about leaving. What he said privately may be different, but obviously that is entirely speculation. Publicly, players have told the local newspapers and media they enjoy playing with Kobe. Dwight included.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      The Lakers situation now is far better than the situation they had following Magic’s departure in the early 90s. Had there been a constant news cycle like there is now in the 90s, there would have been a far more desperate sense around the team.

    • topdawg4ever - Jun 4, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      Exactly. What great point guard will want to be in Kobe’s shadow?

  7. qadrir - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Kobe really has big head and a ego. Dude let Howard make up his own mind why would he want to come back and play for a broken system, an aging star who is downhill a lousy coach. Kobe go away and rehab yourself and not worry about others.

  8. golfrangeman - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    If the Dr’s clear him to play in week one and he doesn’t feel like it… Well there’s a name for that its called Derrick Rose but I don’t see that happening with Kobe.

    • zacksdad - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      See what you failed to realize, while the Dr that cleared Rose to play only studied medicine. But DR, the initials of Derrick Rose, does not feel he is ready to play. He only cares about the money, not winning. Because of this, he probably will never win a Championship. Looks like Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin need to see the Wizard of OZ to get some hearts.

  9. spideysdog - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    teambringitstrong,

    Ummmm…… yes there are 16 banners. you are correct on that part, but 5 of them indeed we’re hung by Black Mamba. you mist be a bog Laker fan. lol

  10. mrlaloosh - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    He far

  11. MyTeamsAllStink - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Smartest thing Dwight could do is go to Houston.Smartest thing the Lakers can do is let him go to Houston.

  12. fanofthegame79 - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    I’ve never been a Kobe fan, but I respect him. I hope he’s able to come back and finish off his career strong.

  13. andiroid71 - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Derrick Rose has a career on the rise. Kobe has a career in its days of decline and is desperate to get back so he can finish the way he wants healthily. Be interesting to see what actual age has to do with recovery of an injury like that.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Dominique Wilkins and David Beckham came back pretty strong from torn Achilles at similar ages.

  14. spideysdog - Jun 4, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    andiroid71 – Jun 4, 2013 at 3:07 PM
    Derrick Rose has a career on the rise. Kobe has a career in its days of decline and is desperate to get back so he can finish the way he wants healthily. Be interesting to see what actual age has to do with recovery of an injury like that.

    ———————————————————————————–

    Derrick Rose is younger and should recover easier. His body hasn’t taken the beating Kobe’s has. Derrick Rose will NEVER win 5 championships.

  15. paulhargis53 - Jun 5, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    If Kobe is back for the 1st game of the season, he and all of lakerland will regret it. Rushing back will do more harm than good.

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