One day after playing 5-on-5 for the first time in nearly seven months, Kobe Bryant returned to Los Angeles Lakers practice Wednesday, experiencing “no setbacks” according to coach Mike D’Antoni. While the excitement around the team is palpable anticipating when Bryant will progress from practice to appearing in an actual game, D’Antoni is still preaching patience regarding the five-time champion. “I want to be a little careful because we’re going to have a few games before he comes back,” D’Antoni said. Bryant’s timeline to return has sped up since first returning to practice over the weekend according to D’Antoni’s word choice, at least.
On Sunday, the coach said there would still be “a bunch” of games before Bryant was back in the lineup. When asked if D’Antoni was ruling Bryant out for the Lakers’ next game Friday against the Golden State Warriors, he replied, “I am. I think.” Why the wiggle room? Well, it is Bryant he was talking about, who has already improved faster than anyone on the team could have imagined up to this point. “Like I said, I’d be very surprised,” D’Antoni said. “But I don’t want to say something that I eat my words, but I don’t think so.”