BEIJING — In the land where they worship him for his work ethic, Kobe Bryant said Monday that the long rehabilitation from his Achilles tendon tear has reached the point where “if today was a playoff or NBA Finals [game], could I play? Probably.”
Before Lakers practice, Bryant said, "I feel pretty damn good, so I'm going to get out today and try to move around on the court."
He wound up doing his running on the arena-concourse level of MasterCard Center instead of doing any on-court work, but it was still progress as he formulates a better idea of when he can join full practice.
Bryant said he has never enjoyed treadmill running much, but he has pushed his work and conditioning forward significantly on the treadmill in recent days, building his confidence.
Asked if he thinks about the Achilles during workouts, Bryant said: “I haven't had any pain or any soreness whatsoever. It's kind of a flexibility thing, and getting the range of motion back—feel like you can bend without having to lift the heel up. After months of the tendon being compressed, now you have to work to stretch it out a little bit.”
After questioning his conditioning level Wednesday in Los Angeles and suggesting he’d need three weeks to regain it, Bryant said Monday in Beijing that he has gone through that initial “misery” to make major conditioning progress.
However, he said, “I haven’t pushed it, pushed it, pushed it.”
That’s why Bryant wants to test it more in practice—“run and feel like I can pick up the pace”—to gauge when he might be able to practice fully.
For now, with opening night for the regular season just more than two weeks away, Bryant said it’s time to “rev it up a little bit.”
Kevin Ding covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.