Kobe Bryant is making steady progress in his injury recovery, although the Los Angeles Lakers star is likely still weeks away from a return to the court.
Before Friday night's game with the San Antonio Spurs, Bryant said he's running on flat ground "a little bit more aggressively" and improving the flexibility in his ankle. Bryant also works out regularly on a special treadmill at the Lakers' training complex.
While Bryant isn't projecting a return date, he has said he would need about three weeks of conditioning work before returning to practice. He thinks this week counts toward that total.
"This week it's done pretty well, actually," Bryant said. "It's been OK. I've been able to push pretty hard and come back, push hard again. The recovery of it has been pretty good."
The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history tore his Achilles tendon in April during a game against Golden State. He hasn't practiced with the Lakers since then, but his concerns are more about his overall athleticism than the Achilles.
"It's not anything to do with the tendon necessarily," Bryant said. "It's going from having the ankle locked up for so long. It wouldn't move. You have that limited range of motion, I don't have to tell you the domino effect that has on the other parts of the body."
While he's resting, Bryant is excited about the prospects for the Lakers, who are hoping to avoid missing the playoffs for just the second time in Bryant's career, now in its 18th season.
Although Bryant is often doing rehabilitation work while his teammates practice, Bryant is spending his time on the shelf mentoring several young Lakers, specifically swingmen Nick Young, Wes Johnson and Xavier Henry. Bryant effusively praised Henry, saying he had no idea of Henry's skills while the fourth-year swingman played for New Orleans.
Until he can get on the court with them, Bryant knows he must show patience — something not always thought to be his strength.
"That's a misconception," Bryant said. "There's nothing I can do about it. I measure my injuries very well. If it's something I can play through and it won't get worse, I'll play. If it's something that will get worse, I have to make those decisions."