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Kobe Bryant returns to practice for first time since Achilles injury

Professional BasketballKobe BryantLos Angeles LakersBasketballSportsElias HarrisNBA

Kobe Bryant returned to the practice court Saturday for the first time since tearing his left Achilles' tendon in mid-April.

The practice consisted of some contact drills, shooting and strategy work.

Players were supposed to go at half speed in drills but it “turned into 100% real fast. And Kobe was part of it,” reserve guard Steve Blake said.

“He looks like Kobe to me, basically. He’s moving well, right back to his old self.”

Bryant did not talk to reporters but did an interview for NBA TV.

"The fade-away still works, the ball-handling and being able to post," he said. "Those are things that I can do right now. But it's not the playoffs."

Bryant began ramping up his off-the-court workouts in recent weeks, though the team declined to provide an updated timetable for his return.

“If it was a playoff game tonight, I could play,” Bryant told NBA TV. “I don’t know how effective I’d be, but I would play.”

Bryant said he remains motivated by the "low-hanging fruit" of continual skepticism about his return.

"That's right there," he said. "It's very easy to get me going, hearing what everybody says and the countless times they write me off. That's, like, really, really easy to hit that switch."

The Lakers play Detroit on Sunday and then don't play again until Friday against Golden State.

For now, the Lakers are monitoring Bryant’s availability one practice at a time.

“The next practice day will be Tuesday. We’ll look forward to see what he can do then,” Lakers spokesman John Black said.

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