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.”