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Kobe medically cleared for everything; Chauncey Billups talks about Kobe’s challenges ahead.

Nov 18, 2013, 4:26 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant AP

Kobe Bryant has been fully medically cleared to return to practice — and that is going to mean a big push this week with the Lakers off for four days. Tuesday through Thursday Kobe is going to get a good workout in with the team and see how it goes.

But there are still challenges ahead getting your body ready, something Chauncey Billups knows all too well — Billups went through the same return from Achilles tendon surgery. Speaking Sunday he was open about the challenges ahead.

The good news is Kobe has a thumbs up from the doctors, still the Lakers will be patient, reports Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

Bryant has full medical clearance, I was told Sunday by someone in a position to have such knowledge—meaning he can do anything and everything without restriction as the recovery from his ruptured left Achilles tendon nears its conclusion….

Even with full clearance, though, Bryant is not expected to jump right back into game action Friday night against Golden State or even the next week of Thanksgiving. Bryant wants to test his ankle joint and see how it responds, which he will get to on an initial basis with full-scale team practices set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Billups suffered the exact same injury at pretty much the exact same age as Bryant — and like Kobe the former NBA champion and Finals MVP refused to leave the game on those terms. He worked to get back and on the court, and this season he is the veteran leader with a young Pistons’ squad.

He said the hard part is felling like your old self again.

“Side-to-side wasn’t too bad actually, it was kind of explosiveness, getting by guys, going to my right side where I had to push off with my left, and regaining the strength in the calf,” Billups told ProBasketballTalk before the Pistons faced the Lakers Sunday night. “Honestly, my strength isn’t all the way there but it’s possible they say it never will be, but you get enough back to do what you do. That’s one of the bigger challenges.”

As for jumping into practices, Billups said it’s not so much that as just getting your body used to the grind again.

“Before practice you train one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three, so it’s a progression,” Billups said. “Then once you get to practice it’s no real big deal. The pounding, the wear and tear of going up and down, that’s something that you have to get used to again. But if you have a steady progression and a process, you can build up to that.”

Kobe is all about process, and he’s not going to shortcut it now. He said before once he got back to practice it would take two or three weeks, that’s likely what happens here. Sometime after Thanksgiving.

But as Billups said when asked about Kobe’s recovery timeline, “nothing would surprise me with 24.”

  1. Mr. Wright 212 - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Let’s gooooooooooooooo

  2. antistratfordian - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    The clock is ticking now. We saw how fans treated Rose – they only have so much patience after a player is medically cleared.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 18, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      I think with 17 years in the NBA and a 5 championships, Kobe has bought more patience from the public than Rose has.

      • 00maltliquor - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:32 PM

        Took the words right out of my mouth.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        Nope. You forget that people don’t like Kobe, in general* – they will never fully embrace him** – so he’s always on a short leash with the public***.

        * http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2010/09/q-score-reveals-lebron-james-and-kobe-bryant-are-almost-equally-disliked.html

        (“…fans outside the Lakers have no reason to like him.”)

        ** http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Kobe-Bryant-is-still-more-unlikable-than-LeBron-?urn=nba-269606

        (“On the other hand, after a great two year run, this proves that there’s really nothing Kobe Bryant can do that will make him well-liked to fans.”)

        *** http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2013/02/05/americas-10-most-disliked-athletes/

        (2013 America’s 10 Most Disliked Athletes: Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o, Tiger Woods, Jay Cutler, Metta World Peace, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Vick, Kurt Busch, Kobe Bryant, Tony Romo)

      • asimonetti88 - Nov 19, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        Judging by the thumbs on our comments, the public disagrees with your assessment.

    • stephenlin - Nov 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      the circumstances surrounding rose’s comeback were different. although i think rose was right to be patient, the bulls did have to wait in limbo for him in the midst of a time when their roster is expected to contend year in and year out. meanwhile, LA has pretty temperate expectations for this year. you should be aware of this by now, as most LA fans have expressed, in one form or another, their preference that kobe should not push himself to come back too early to a team that cannot contend.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 18, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        Fans are fickle. I give it two weeks before Lakers fans are calling Kobe soft. tick tock.

    • stephenlin - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      soft? lol.

  3. thedano - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Anyone expecting Kobe back faster than a couple of weeks isn’t being realistic.

  4. lakerade - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Secondary market ticket prices already going up at mere mention.

  5. unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    It will be surprising if he is anywhere near as effective as last year. Smart money says he is done as an impact player.

    • stadix093 - Nov 18, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      I have learned to never doubt anyone, especially Kobe. Let’s just wait and see.

  6. billtetley53 - Nov 18, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    Hurry back Kobe. Lift this team to an 8 seed and right out of the lottery.
    That’s the worst thing that could happen for the lakers. No draft pucks in round one for the next few years after this one. Anything to extend the rebuilding of this franchise. The arrogant fanbase deserves it.
    No tradeable assets, none of the big names will move, young free agents won’t move because they want their first big$ deal. Yes there will be cap space, but they will be the Mavericks, picking up 2nd tier guys.
    The rest of the fanbases will point and laugh.
    No titles in L.A. for a long time.

  7. rodge1 - Nov 18, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Will this injury affect him not wanting to play defense?

  8. Anoesis - Nov 18, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Some more good stuff from Ding’s story-

    ‘In testing himself, Bryant intends to be thorough. That’s why he surprised teammates by how driven he was in that team workout on a quiet Saturday meant to be a light day in the gym for the Lakers. Said teammate Jordan Hill, “I thought he wasn’t going to go that hard, but he was really pushing it.”’

    ‘So the plan Bryant shared back in June with the Lakers’ flagship radio station, KSPN-AM 710 in Los Angeles, still essentially holds: “I’m shooting for November—December latest. That’s my goal in my head,” Bryant said then.’

    ‘But by all firsthand accounts, the team was already transformed in practice Saturday by Bryant’s presence and intensity. They then put together one of their best games in beating Detroit on Sunday night with Steve Blake, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Hill singled out by Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who has been downplaying the prospect of any imminent Bryant return.’

    So Bryant’s original timetable hasn’t changed, despite all the speculation from everyone outside the team. In addition, the Lakers may get Steve Nash back from his nerve-root irritation around the same time Bryant is ready to hit the court in a game.

    Next week the Lakers are on the road with three games in four nights. December 1st they are at home against Portland. With no games scheduled for Dec. 2-5, look for Bryant to make his season debut in Sacramento (a venue he loves) on Friday, December 6.

    • Kurt Helin - Nov 19, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      For the record, the speculation was in part because nobody, Bryant included, ever really gave specific timetables, outside what he hoped would happen five months ago. If you are vague, people speculate. It’s the way of the world.

      • Anoesis - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        For the record: Back on 7-21-13 Bryant had his return date pretty well nailed down and was considerably less than “vague”:

        “I’m here on vacation but I still have to work and improve on recovering from my injury,” Bryant said in Italian (translated for the L.A. Times by Jason Negri of USA Basket Notizie).

        “It is difficult because I can’t do much, but I am getting stronger every day and I am hoping to return by November or December.”

        Back in July (four months ago vs. five) Bryant had narrowed his return date down to just about exactly where we can now expect him to return. That quote above is about as specific as it comes.

        Bryant knows his body better than most athletes and better than just about every single other person on the planet. I put a lot more stock into his estimate than I did in anyone else’s, medical folks included.

        http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2013/7/21/4543280/kobe-bryant-injury-lakers-return

  9. riggz91 - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    I ruptured my Achilles when I was 24, 4 years later my strength still isn’t the same. Oviously I’m not even 1% of the athlete Kobe is, but I agree with Billups 100%. The hardest thing is getting the strength back in the calf and gaining that explosiveness, and the confidence to explode off the leg. Being a righty the left leg is the leg you explode off of, and that is really hard. Not saying he can’t do it, but it definitely isn’t going to be easy to get back to his old self.

  10. smileyd123 - Nov 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    No need to rush him back. I say give him another month and sit him on back to back games. The second half of the season is the most important. Kobe has to reliquish some of the scoring resposibilities to. Most likely he will be playing around 80% of his oldself when he gets back.

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