Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant showed considerable rust in his season debut against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, scoring just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and turning the ball over eight times in a 106-94 loss.
After the game, Bryant admitted things felt a bit off in his first game action since tearing an Achilles tendon in April:
"It was weird. It was really weird. I think the last time I had eight months off I was still in the womb. It felt good to get out there. [Physically] I feel fine actually. Playing those minutes I think was a lot less of toll on my body, so I feel fine. Conditioning, I really worked on my conditioning, I feel like I can run all day long. It's a matter of getting those game legs back. The shot feels weird. Running and cutting and being able to explode feel weird because you kind of have to get those game legs back."
Considering his age and the type of injury he suffered, feeling "weird" is something that should have been expected. It will take some time to get back in the groove of things, and Bryant went on to say he never really felt like himself all night and can't wait to work on improving things for the next game:
"I don't feel normal at all. I couldn't wait to start watching the film and start criticizing every little thing and I'll go home tonight and watch it over again, but that's the exciting part. The exciting part is you got a challenge and you got some improvements to make and you sit and you watch them and you break it down and you get ready for the next game and carry it from there."
On a more positive note, Bryant did stress that he felt fine physically and was satisfied with the way he moved throughout the game. He pointed out that he was able to get into the lane at times, an ability which was a major question mark for him heading into the contest. The decision-making was off once he got into the lane, a big factor in those eight turnovers. However, that's something Bryant knows will improve with more time on the court.
Bryant and the Lakers will next play Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns. Expect more struggles as the 35-year-old continues to both try and find his own rhythm coming off a serious injury and also gain familiarity with his new teammates.
Quotes transcribed by Lakers.com