Kobe Bryant Eyes February Return, Leaves Door Open for All-Star Game

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have dropped eight of their past 10 games and are 4-14 since Kobe Bryant suffered a fracture in his tibial plateau in his left knee Dec. 17.

But good news may be on the horizon.

Bryant could be on the verge of returning, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni told Yahoo! Sports, and is expected to be in the lineup sometime before the Feb. 14-16 All-Star Break.

The original prognosis on Bryant’s injury was six weeks, which in sticking to that timeline would pin his return toward the end of January. Earlier this month, D’Antonio said he expected Bryant to be able to play on Jan. 28 against the Indiana Pacers.

A week ago, Bryant stated his left knee would be re-evaluated in February, but that date was moved up to the beginning of next week — Jan. 27 or 28 — which would make an early February return a realistic possibility. Bryant said his knee feels great and isn’t an issue at this point.

Bryant has played in six games this season after sitting out the beginning of the year as he recovered from Achilles’ surgery. Bryant tore his left Achilles’ tendon and underwent surgery in April. Bryant then twisted his knee against the Memphis Grizzlies.

An early return to the Lakers does not mean the veteran will suit up for the All-Star Game, though. According to the Yahoo! Sports report, Bryant — who was named to his 16th consecutive All-Star Game on Thursday — believes a more deserving player should replace him in the starting lineup.

“With all due to respect to the fans that voted me in, I certainly appreciate that and they know I appreciate that, but you got to do the right thing,” Bryant said. “You got to reward these young guys for the work they have been putting in.”

However, after initially saying no to the notion of playing in the game Bryant acknowledged that if he is healthy and playing for the Lakers beforehand, he would not completely skip the All-Star Game.

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.
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