Kobe Bryant might be currently sidelined with a left-knee fracture, but the Lakers superstar still had plenty to say during his team’s visit to Chicago for Monday night’s game against the Bulls at the United Center.
In a wide-ranging pregame interview, Bryant came across as one of the league’s elder statesman, discussing everything from the game’s changing style of play in the different eras of his career to his present physical state. On the latter topic, the future Hall of Fame shooting guard said he has “zero” doubt that he’ll return to the court as an impact player, despite the setback, which occurred last month, compounding his recovery from an Achilles’ injury late last season.
“Zero,” Bryant repreated. “It was before I came back the first time because I didn’t know how my Achilles was going to respond to playing, changing direction. The game in Memphis [in which he suffered the injury], I had a pretty good feel, I felt like I was getting back to what I could do, so I feel pretty confident.
“But I did play the second half with a fractured leg and a torn Achilles and did pretty well, so I feel good about my chances.”
Asked specifically about when he’d return to action, however, Bryant was unsure of a timetable.
“It's all just up in the air right now. I try not to think about it too much, just go day to day,” he explained. “Just same old, same old. I’ve just been riding the [stationary] bike, trying to stay in shape that way. There’s not much I can really do in terms of running and things of that nature. I’m mainly just focused on doing bike work.”
Speaking of injuries, Bryant said he would attempt to talk to injured Bulls point guard Derrick Rose while in Chicago.
“We haven't had a chance to talk. I don't know if he's going to be here tonight or not. If he is, I'm sure I'll catch up with him at some point,” Bryant said. “There's really nothing much you can do about it. It is what it is. It's unfortunate but you have two options and one is to lay down and not do anything about it and the second is to get up and get to work. So I think the second one is more appealing to him, for sure.”
As far as his Lakers, who appear destined to have one of their worst seasons since Bryant joined the franchise back in 1996, Bryant wouldn’t speculate about whether or not they could compete for the playoffs in a strong Western Conference, but was positive about some of what he’s seen from the sidelines.
“I have no clairvoyant powers,” Bryant quipped about the Lakers’ postseason chances. “I think they compete and play hard. That's really the key. That's what you want to see. You want to see them out there battling and competing, trying to figure things out as a group.”
Although he’s only played in six games as the regular season approaches its midway point, Bryant remains amongst the West leaders in All-Star Game balloting, something he was diplomatic about when asked to speak on the topic.
“I've always looked forward to playing in All-Star games. It's always something that's been a huge honor,” Bryant said. “With that being said, I haven't played. I think some of the other guys who have been out there performing and playing well and are All-Star worthy should be the ones out there playing.”