(Reuters) - Kobe Bryant will make his long-awaited return from injury for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at home to the Toronto Raptors, the shooting guard said on his Facebook account on Friday.
The 35-year-old posted a two-minute video link that showed his “No. 24” jersey fluttering through sunshine, clouds, wind, rain, snow and lightning, then being torn down the middle before being repaired by a beam of light.
Preceded by the inscription: “Seasons of Legend. Lakers announce Kobe’s return”, the video segment ended by flashing the words: “The Legend Continues…. December 8.”
Bryant has been sidelined since mid-April with a torn left Achilles’ tendon but was given full medical clearance to resume all basketball activities midway through last month.
The return of the 15-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion will be a significant boost for the Lakers who are 9-9 this season and sit 12th in the 15-team Western Conference.
Bryant practiced with the team for a third straight day on Thursday without suffering any setbacks, and said afterwards that his range of motion was a lot better.
“The last time I practiced (for two days in a row), my range of motion became restricted,” Bryant, known throughout his career for his determination to play through pain and various other setbacks, told reporters.
”It became kind of locked up and I wasn’t able to run, change directions or sprint like I wanted to.
“Now I don’t feel like I have any limitations, really. The change of gear is not where I want it to be, but it’s easy to compensate and go out there and be effective.”
Bryant ruled out the possibility of making his return on Friday against the Kings in Sacramento.
“My sea legs aren’t there yet,” he said. “The pull-up jump shots and the fadeaways, my sea legs aren’t quite there yet to be able to do that.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Thousand Oaks, California; Editing by Gene Cherry