- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant says he has been given the "green light" to ramp up his workouts to return to game action for the first time since tearing his Achilles last April but isn't interested in committing to any set return date as he completes the final stage of his rehabilitation.
"I just keep it all open right now," Bryant said Wednesday before joining the Los Angeles Lakers on their flight to Las Vegas for a preseason game. "I don't know why you guys are so hell-bent on timelines. It's like the most ridiculous thing to me. It's entertaining. When I'm ready, I'm ready."
In order to feel ready, Bryant, who has not played any full-court basketball since his Achilles surgery nearly six months ago, said he needs to do two things: get the explosiveness in his left leg back and then whip his 35-year-old body back into shape.
Bryant is working on the former by running with his full body weight on the team's altered-gravity treadmill and through targeted exercises to strengthen his Achilles.
"I do a lot of calf raises during the day, just trying to get it as strong as possible and constantly pushing the flexibility of it, the mobility," said Bryant.
As for the latter, Bryant said he needs three weeks of "rigorous conditioning" to get back where he wants to be.
"I need to get my fat ass in shape," Bryant said. "Six months of eating whatever the hell I wanted to eat and not running has caught up to me a little bit. So, I got to get in shape."
The three-week training period all but eliminates the possibility of Bryant playing in the Lakers' final five preseason games. "That's when you get hurt," Bryant gave as his reason for not trying to play in exhibition games before he was fully healed. As for the Lakers' regular season opener Oct. 29 against the Los Angeles Clippers, it's anybody's guess.
"I'll be happy when I'm able to be out there on the floor and do what I do best," Bryant said. "All this right now is just a process to try to get to that point."
What is next for Bryant?
"It's the explosiveness, the explosiveness and the muscle endurance which takes a little time," said Bryant.
And how will he know he is ready to play again?
"Because I feel comfortable," Bryant said. "I'll feel comfortable getting out there and jumping and I won't feel like I have 'Bambi' legs or anything like that where my mobility is limited when taking off. So, I'll know then."
The five-time champion did some light jogging and set shooting on the court last week before heading to Germany for five days to undergo the platelet-rich plasma treatment known as Orthokine on his right knee.
"No setback," Bryant said of how his body responded to him dipping his toe into the pool of basketball activity. "No soreness. Nothing. It felt good."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said Bryant was back at the Lakers practice facility on Wednesday morning going through his rehab before the coach even arrived.
"He's just relentless," D'Antoni said. "Somebody that's accomplished as much as he has to have the desire, that's what makes his great. His work ethic, I don't think anybody can top it. Now, there are other guys who do well also, but it's an unbelievable work ethic."
Said Bryant: "That's how we've approached this injury from the beginning. It is a marathon. I just got to get up and punch the clock every day and just continue to chip away at it."
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann