NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Lakers’ Bryant, Nash participate in practice — The L.A. Lakers had one of their worst seasons ever, something that could be attributed to the number 21. That’s the total number of games that Kobe Bryant (six) and Steve Nash (15) played in for L.A. last season. With the start of training camp on Tuesday, though, the Lakers got good news simply in the fact both players suited up and made it through practice without issue. The Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan has more on Bryant and Nash’s first practice under coach Byron Scott, including Bryant’s trademark competitiveness showing up early on:
To hear everybody talk, Kobe Bryant was 26 years old, not 36. He was merely coming off a bruised thigh and scratched elbow, not a torn Achilles’ tendon and fractured knee.
The Lakers didn’t do any scrimmaging Tuesday, but Bryant made an impact while practicing for 2 hours 15 minutes, his first official action since playing only six games last season.
He had to be asked to leave the court. For his own sake.
“Basically, I had to ask Kobe to, you know, ‘Why don’t you shut it down? We’ve got another one tomorrow,'” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said, encouraging Bryant to sit out end-of-practice conditioning.
Bryant said he felt like himself, adding, “and that’s a good thing.”
It might not be glamorous, but this defense-first thing will continue for a while.
“Every day until I get to the point where I don’t think we need to. And I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Scott said. “I know in my years of playing and coaching that that’s something that wins championships.”
The running might not stop for a while either, though Nash joined Bryant in skipping the end-of-practice sprinting that left plenty of players huffing and puffing, with some even laying down or leaning against the basketball hoop support.
Nash, who will be 41 in February, practiced for about 90 minutes before heading to the sideline for some rest. Scott said he “was in great shape” after playing only 15 games last season mainly because of recurring nerve damage in his back.
The bigger deal these days is Bryant’s return to the court. Even Bryant acknowledged it.
“I think the Achilles’ injury just ignited a new challenge for me personally to see if I can do this, right?” Bryant said. “Because you don’t know. So it’s a challenge that presented itself to see if I can make this a successful comeback.”
Additionally, Lakers fans will be happy to see this bit of news from Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears: