EARLY XMAS: COULD KOBE BE BACK FRIDAY?

Written by Fran Blinebury

About those fancy wrapped boxes with the pretty ribbons sitting under the tree.
We can all guess that an impatient little kid named Kobe Bryant never paid one bit of attention to those tags that read: Do Not Open ’Til Christmas.
So why should anybody be surprised that Black Mamba Claus might not wait for the long-suspected Dec. 25 national TV showdown against LeBron James and the Heat to come down the chimney for his official return to the court?

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com the countdown clock for Bryant to make his 2013-14 debut has just speeded up. That’s because Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni says it’s possible that Bryant could be in the lineup to face the Kings Friday night in Sacramento.
“I don’t want to anticipate anything,” D’Antoni said after practice Saturday. “Those are days that he can work and see, re-evaluate how he feels after the three days and then make a decision going forward.
“That doesn’t mean he will play Friday, doesn’t mean he won’t. But that’s the time you just evaluate, and I can’t tell you what type of evaluation that will be.”
But it does mean that Bryant’s recovery from the torn Achilles’ tendon suffered on April 12 could be moving at least slightly ahead of schedule. When the team announced his new two-year, $48.5 million contract extension on Monday, Bryant said that he was still “probably weeks” away from suiting up for the Lakers.
The Lakers held a light workout on Saturday and Bryant took part in all of the drills. After playing the Trail Blazers at home on Sunday night, the team is off until traveling to Sacramento on Friday. How fitting that Bryant could return against the Kings, who now have his old teammate/sparring partner Shaquille O’Neal as a minority owner.
“He’ll be listed pretty soon as ‘day to day,’ ” D’Antoni said. “And everybody knows that’s the way it is. When he’s ready to roll, he’ll go.
“We’ll have three days of practice, and then we’ll know better. We’ll have a better idea.”

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