When will Kobe Bryant play again?
Not even he knows.
Bryant said Wednesday he still needs at least three weeks of strong conditioning before returning to the court. He won't start that phase until he is comfortable jumping.
"I won't feel like I have Bambi legs or anything like that where my mobility is limited," he said.
In other words, he's doubtful at best for the Lakers' season opener Oct. 29 against the Clippers. Not that he's worried about a return date.
"I just keep it open right now," he said. "I don't know why you guys are so hell-bent on time lines. It's like the most ridiculous thing to me. When I'm ready, I'm ready."
Sidelined since April 12 because of a torn left Achilles' tendon, Bryant has been a spectator in the Lakers' exhibition season. He has gradually increased his treadmill time and done more calf raises throughout the day to improve Achilles flexibility.
"I'm starting to move a little bit more," he said. "I'm trying to pick up my pace a lot more."
When he feels comfortable jumping, he will begin the final phase -- conditioning.
"I've got to get my fat ass in shape. Six months of eating whatever the hell I want to eat and not running and stuff like that caught up to me a little bit," he said. "I can do it in about three weeks of rigorous conditioning. I have the green light now to do that. It's just the matter of having the flexibility and the strength to be able to run at high speeds out here on the court or on the track or whatever."
Frustration obviously seeps in from time to time. Bryant tries to curb it.
"It's almost like Groundhog Day. Just roll out of bed, roll out of bed and get to work," Bryant said. "It is a marathon and you've just got to get up and punch the clock every day. You've just got to continue to chip away at it."
Bryant recently came back from an Orthokine procedure on his right knee in Germany, but the relatively noninvasive treatment will not be a determining factor in his return to the court.
Orthokine targets proteins or molecules called interleukin that cause inflammatory responses. Blood is taken from the patient and spun in a centrifuge, allowing antagonists to be removed to create a serum that gets injected into the targeted area.
Bryant had the procedure twice on his knee in 2011 and claimed it was a "big plus," but he said he wouldn't see potential benefits of it now until his Achilles' recovery concludes.
"I'm not where I was the first time I went and had the procedure in terms of being able to run as much," he said. "But I can do some things."
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