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D’Antoni on Kobe playing opening night: “No. I don’t think so.”

Oct 15, 2013, 12:07 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers' Bryant gestures to his teammates before their game against the Golden State Warriors at the NBA Global Games in Beijing Reuters

It always seemed pretty much impossible that Kobe Bryant would be back from his ruptured Achilles tendon in April in time for the NBA’s opening night. But because he’s Kobe Bryant we all looked at it differently — this guy played with a broken finger on his shooting hand and just adjusted his shot to make it work. He’s the Black Knight from Monty Python (‘Tis a flesh wound) and you just couldn’t write him off.

Now, it seems Mike D’Antoni is writing him off from opening night. Almost.

At his postgame press conference in Beijing after the Lakers fell to Golden State Tuesday morning, D’Antoni was asked about the chances of Kobe playing opening night Oct. 29 against the Clippers and he was honest in his response (via Zach Harper at Eye on Basketball).

“No. I don’t think so. We’ll see. I think it’s an ongoing process but that would be tough.”

That first reaction — “no” — is what Mike D’Antoni really thinks. That second comment about “process” and it “would be tough” is D’Antoni remembering Kobe is the guy with the power in their relationship and he wants that door open.

Kobe has yet to practice with the team. He is running — he ran around the arena in Beijing while his teammates practiced — but that is very different from sharp stops, cutting and all that comes with playing in a basketball game.

Like a hamstring, an Achilles needs to be fully healed and not pushed too much after an injury because it is prone to setbacks. It is not a situation where it is as simple as “if Kobe just works harder and ignores the pain he’ll be fine.” If it were a matter of will he’d be back.

The Lakers need him back but more importantly the Lakers need him back right — any hopes of a playoff spot in the West hinge on him not only returning early in the season but also being pretty close to his old self. This Lakers team is not one with a lot of margin for error. They can wait a few weeks to get him right.

  1. loungefly74 - Oct 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Running away, eh? You yellow b*stards! Come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!

    This new learning amazes me, Sir Helin. Explain again how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

  2. asimonetti88 - Oct 15, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    October 29th is only two weeks from today… I’m so excited for the basketball season to start!

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 15, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      You are a real fan. I think you’re a Lakers faithful and the fact that you are still excited shows you support your team no matter what! Plus, you’re a fan of the game, and appreciate what it takes to play in the best league in the world. Thanks.

      Any team with Kobe Bryant has a chance. Who can say that about Dwight Howard?

      • asimonetti88 - Oct 16, 2013 at 12:05 AM

        Hey, win or lose they’re my team. I would prefer they win of course. I’m just missing basketball, even though I love football, I always feel like I’m missing something until basketball season starts.

      • antistratfordian - Oct 16, 2013 at 2:55 AM

        A team with Kobe Bryant without Phil Jackson has NO chance. Dwight Howard can get to the finals without the Zen Master. Can Kobe?

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