Kobe Bryant returned to the hardwood last week for the first time since his Achilles rupture last season. For Bryant the five games he has played have been more like preseason basketball. Averaging just under 29 minutes per contest Bryant has yet to look like himself.
Despite putting up 21 Saturday at Charlotte Kobe has been held to single digit scoring titles in three of his first five games. Last night against Atlanta Bryant looked noticeably stiff. An indication as to just how much rust maybe on the Lakers captain. Shooting just 28% from the field in 32 minutes. Kobe said in his post game that his ankle was a little stiff, perhaps from not playing for such a long period.
Those who cover the Lakers on a daily basis were admittedly surprised to see Bryant back on the court before Christmas. Those that are close with Kobe reported on various sports programs nationwide that the reality of Kobe's return prior to Christmas was not good. The reason for the post holiday return speculation was predetermined by Bryant's own words. He had commented privately and publicly that he does not want to play at anything but a superior level. Far from that level of play at this point the 35 year old has an uphill climb if he is to lead his Lakers to the promise land this year.