Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant made his much anticipated return to the court Sunday against the Toronto Raptors after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in April. Bryant was rusty in his first game in seven and a half months, scoring nine points and turning the ball over eight times in 28 minutes in a 106-94 loss.
The rust was understandable for Bryant given the type of injury he suffered, an injury that's often difficult to recover from at his advanced age. The 35-year-old's first shot was an air ball, and he also got stuffed by DeMar DeRozan while attempting his patented fadeaway jumper:
Bryant finished the game shooting just 2-of-9 from the field, and he missed all three three-pointers he attempted. However, there were some flashes of good Kobe, like on his first bucket of the season:
Bryant also grabbed eight rebounds, handed out four assists and had two steals. He went 5-of-7 from the foul line, although he didn't really attack the rim much.
While Bryant was generally bad most of the night, it would be foolish to overreact and proclaim him to be done. There's certainly a chance the Kobe of old is no more considering the severity of his injury, but it's too early to say that right now. Bryant is an all-time great, but he needs time just like any other player to get into a groove following a major surgery.
Bryant spoke after the game about what it was like playing for the first time post-injury:
Kobe: "My rhythm is completely out of sync ... But this is a start. I guess a start is good"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 9, 2013
Kobe: "I'm still not sure exactly what I can do...It's a heck of a challenge."— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) December 9, 2013
Kobe and the Lakers will face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.