Kobe Bryant Wants to Play Sunday, Return 'Days' Away

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Kobe Bryant Wants to Play Sunday, Return 'Days' Away
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Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is right on the doorstep of his return from a nearly eight-month absence while recovering from a torn Achilles.

He hopes to clear that final hurdle before the weekend is over.

He told ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin that he's "trying" to come back for Sunday's home game against the Toronto Raptors. He's just hoping his body feels the same way:

We got to see how it feels tonight. I'm going to try to get another hard session in and then [Friday] morning try to push it again and the same thing tomorrow evening. Continue to just keep on measuring it.

There is no entry for half-speed in the Black Mamba's dictionary. He'll be looking to make those same lethal strikes he's landed throughout his 17-year career.

Always a self-motivator, he's welcomed the critics who remain skeptical that a 35-year-old can fully recover from such a devastating injury, and that his Lakers can still be relevant in a jam-packed Western Conference.

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But he knows his limits. He sees Father Time tracing his every move. He wants to prove those doubters wrong, but he understands that he has to handle this the right way.

Even if that means adjusting on the fly to a few bumps in the road:

The perfect-case scenario is that we get it right the first time. But if it's not, then you have to be smart about it as well and take a step back and build up the strength and say, "Hey, listen, it's not as good as we thought it was going to be, so let's take a step back and get it to where we want it to be and try again."

So while Sunday is the plan, that date is fluid. If the wait has to continue, it won't be for long. Coach Mike D'Antoni said Kobe is "days" away from returning to the hardwood. According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, however, D'Antoni indicated a near-ish target date, even if it came with tempered expectations.

If Bryant's body responds the right way, it might be hard to keep him under the close watch that most players get when returning from serious injury. While he told McMenamin that he'd "probably" see a reduction in playing time—he logged 38.6 minutes per game last season—that open door he left himself could be key.

As CBS Sports' Royce Young noted, "When Kobe's healthy, you're not going to keep him off the court."

Nor should you. After enduring the season without him, the basketball world is more than ready for a healthy serving of "Vino."

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