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Shaq says he’s ‘sure’ Kobe will return early from Achilles injury, believes he’s targeting opening night

Aug 13, 2013, 6:07 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal (L) la Getty Images

Kobe Bryant has historically shown an unmatched work ethic where basketball is concerned, and there’s no question he’ll continue that level of perseverance as he’s undergoing rehabilitation for the torn Achilles injury he suffered in April near the end of the regular season.

Bryant has already said that he’s shattered the normal timetable for recovery from this type of injury, which would have had him returning to the court sometime near the end of December at the earliest. But one of his former teammates believes Bryant will do everything possible to be back on the floor much sooner than that.

From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times:

Shaquille O’Neal expects Kobe Bryant to return from his Achilles’ injury for the Lakers’ season opener on Oct. 29.

“I’m sure Kobe is going to come back early,” said Shaquille O’Neal in a video interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet on Friday.  “Anything before nine months is early.  Him making the first game, I wish him well.  He’s a very, very competitive kid.  He loves the naysayers.  He loves proving people wrong.”When he put the rumor out there that he may be back the first game, best believe he’s trying to come back the first game,” continued O’Neal.

We know Bryant wants to play as early as possible, and Lakers fans want him back on the floor contributing as soon as he’s healthy enough to do so — with the caveat that he’s able to play somewhere close to the level that he could before the injury was sustained.

If Kobe comes back early and is a shell of his former self (yet still dominates the ball offensively and demands the same amount of touches), that’s going to hurt the team a lot more than would his absence for another couple of months.

Bryant will do everything he can to be back as soon as it’s physically possible — that much is certain. He just needs to be honest with himself about his abilities during the recovery process, and make the smart decision as to when the time to return would be best.

  1. dirtydavis - Aug 13, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Shaq really needs to get off Kobe’s N*ts. This guy has been all over them ever since Kobe won is first ring( post- shaq). Shaq regrets the ” tell me how my A** taste” fiasco

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 14, 2013 at 1:18 AM

      Sounds to me like an NBA analyst commenting on something that is highly relevant news. His credibility is enhanced by personal knowledge about Kobe’s game and mentality. It doesn’t sound like he’s on kobe’s n*ts.

    • anhdazman - Aug 15, 2013 at 5:16 AM

      You act like Kobe and Shaq can’t bury the hatchet and become friends or something.

      Nothing wrong with Shaq and Kobe realizing how special they were after they lost each other. That Laker team was something special. Both guys being a pain in the butt cause for that team to break up. If they didn’t, they would have had a few more championships.

      It took time, but at least they’re friends now. Nothing wrong with showing some love to Kobe.

  2. cbking05 - Aug 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    Demarcus Cousins is still waiting for Shaq’s phone call ………

    • muhangis - Aug 14, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      Demarcus Cousins is a damn good player man!! Especially for how freakin young that he is. Quit listening to popular opinion, make your own.

    • adamsjohn714 - Aug 14, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      Muhangis…..Cousins isn’t all that good. He’s a center who takes 18 footers constantly, doesn’t make many, and shoots a poor percentage because of it.

  3. thomaskouns - Aug 13, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Shaq also says off the record, “I still can’t stand Kobe but my future endorsements are tied to NBA fans perception of ‘getting along’ and being ‘cool’ with Kobe so I can keep getting paid in endorsements, appearances and media off our championship run. “

  4. pike573 - Aug 13, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    I’d said the second game. That way he’s the biggest story line and doesn’t have to compete with other story lines

  5. showtimefolks007 - Aug 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    Whether we like Kobe or not one thing is for sure, he gives it his all

    Also I feel like since Dwight left Shaq also kind of feel betrayed and that’s why he has been saying positive things for Kobe and lakers. Shaq was right about Dwight all along, he is no superman

    Also Shaq wants to be back in with lakers organization

  6. ejphenom - Aug 13, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    I hope Kobe comes back when he can play some good defense. I know he will be good on the offensive side but his lateral movement on that ankle will tell the true story of how bad that ankle will effect his play.

    • skids003 - Aug 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM

      Then he’ll never come back.

  7. jabronikid - Aug 13, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    He wants Kobe to get back early so he can contribute in Shaqtin a fool.

  8. antistratfordian - Aug 13, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    That’s Kobe’s personality. He will do everything in his power to be back earlier than recommended. For what reason? I don’t think I have to go into that.

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