Kobe Bryant was back at practice Sunday, impressing teammates and coaches after sitting out almost two weeks because of a bruised lower leg.
He shot well and didn’t look too winded, Coach Byron Scott said, putting Bryant firmly in line for Wednesday’s season opener against Minnesota.
“He was shooting in peoples’ faces, they’d foul him for an ‘and-one'… turnaround right, turnaround left, talking trash,” forward Metta World Peace said. “Somebody decided to talk to Kobe. That was the wrong thing to do.”
Turns out, two players fired up Bryant by trash-talking him: Lou Williams and, no surprise, Nick Young.
Bryant’s day also stimulated World Peace’s imagination.
“He had one windmill dunk that was pretty cool, and I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” World Peace said, later admitting he was kidding about the dunk but not Bryant’s overall steady play at practice.
“You have to double Kobe,” World Peace predicted for the upcoming season. “You’re not going to just be able to guard him one-on-one. He’s hungry. He’s excited. He looks great. He’s still enjoying the game. That’s what’s most important.”
Bryant has not spoken to reporters since getting injured Oct. 13 in an exhibition in Las Vegas.
Even Scott admitted he would “start worrying” if Bryant couldn’t practice leading up to Wednesday’s opener.
“He walked out [Sunday] and said it felt good, gave me the thumbs-up,” Scott said. “You could see a little rust, but other than that he was moving pretty fluid again. It was just good to see.”
Bryant averaged 22.3 points last season but shot only 37.3% before sustaining a torn rotator cuff in his 35th game.
His accuracy improved during exhibition play, though it was only a five-game sample before he was injured: 44.7% in 18.1 minutes a game. He averaged 13 points and 1.4 assists.
Another generous donation
World Peace is doing it again, turning his back on his past persona to raise funds for a noble cause.
He wants to bring in $2 million by raffling off the trophy he won in 2003-04 as the NBA’s defensive player of the year. World Peace will donate the money toward what he called “family defense.”
“Mainly, we’re targeting little boys to become good partners and good fathers,” he said Sunday. “A lot of kids learn … how to call girls ‘b’s’ and ‘h’s’. What about learning how to be a good father and be a good partner?”
World Peace raised about $671,000 for mental-health causes in 2010 by raffling off the championship ring he’d won a few months earlier with the Lakers. He subsequently won the NBA award for citizenship, further distancing himself from the 2004 “Malice at the Palace” brawl in which he was a central figure.
He will soon be a little lighter in memorabilia. He doesn’t care.
“I won’t have the ring or the trophy,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. No second thoughts.”
World Peace, 35, is trying to survive the final roster cut for the Lakers after not playing in the NBA last season. World Peace or second-year guard Jabari Brown will be released Monday to get down to the 15-player limit, Scott said.