LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sidelined for eight days by a strained right foot, Los Angeles Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant said he was “85 percent” certain to play in his team’s regular season opener against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
Bryant took part in a full shoot-around with his team mates on Tuesday morning and planned to re-evaluate his foot once he arrived at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles later in the day.
”Either I‘m ready to go or I‘m not ready to go,“ the five-time NBA champion told reporters. ”It’s just a matter of how sore it gets from now until I get to Staples.
“Since last night, I’ve had substantially less pain, and the strength has gotten better. That’s very encouraging.”
Bryant was kicked in his right foot during the third quarter of the Lakers’ 99-92 preseason loss to the Sacramento Kings on October 21, and had not played or practiced again until Tuesday morning.
Much is expected of Bryant and his Lakers team mates in their 2012-13 campaign following the offseason acquisitions of six-time All-Star Dwight Howard and former twice Most Valuable Player Steve Nash.
Howard and Nash will join Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace in a powerful starting five, though Howard is still easing his way into form after having surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back.
”Of course I want to play,“ Bryant said of Tuesday’s season opener. ”We’ve put together a great roster here and I worked real hard this summer to get myself in tip-top shape and be ready to go.
“I‘m not going to play with an injury that will get progressively worse and limp through the season. I worked too hard for that.”
The Mavericks will be without 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, who is expected to miss about a dozen games at the start of the season while he recovers from knee surgery.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; editing by Rex Gowar