Kobe Bryant's diehard fans in China were unable to cheer for their injured hero during the Lakers' two exhibition games this week, but they still turned out in full force to mob the Lakers' bus as the team exited its hotel.
With security guards flanking him on either side, Bryant waved to his fans as they repeatedly chanted "Ko-be! Ko-be!" with increasing intensity. Waving Lakers flags and trying to snap pictures with their phones, the fans eventually chased after the bus, trying to get Bryant's attention as he took his seat in the back row.
The Kobe-less Lakers lost to the Warriors twice this week: 100-95 in Beijing on Tuesday and 115-89 in Shanghai on Friday.
What's the latest with Bryant's rehabilitation from a season-ending Achilles tear? He is still without a firm recovery timetable, and he said that he's stuck reminding himself to proceed with the proper degree of caution and patience.
"The hardest part is not thinking ahead," Bryant said in target="_blank">another video from China. "If you think ahead about what it's going to be like when I come back, you get excited, but you get disappointed because you're still here in this predicament. One of the things I haven't really tested is the getting off the floor part, the jumping part. I've got to measure that. That's got to be next. You want to get out there and push a little bit, but you've got to keep your patience but it's tough. You've got to focus on the moment, focus on day by day getting better, and believing that that time will come."
Bryant added some additional thoughts on the progress with his Achilles to Lakers.com.
“I can’t quite push all the way through yet, but it’s coming along fine," Bryant told the team's website. "It feels all right. It gets tight, so we just continue to work ... but I feel good about it.”
L.A. will return to the United States to complete its exhibition slate, hosting the Jazz at the Staples Center next Tuesday.
The Lakers will open the 2013-14 regular season, with or without Bryant, on Oct. 29 against the Clippers.
Postscript: The under-the-radar MVP from the mob scene might be the man in the yellow shirt in the middle of the photo below, as he was the only person screaming for Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol. His aggressive, guttural "Pooowwww!" screeching prompted the security guards to shove him back into line after he briefly seemed to lose control of his limbs.
target="_blank">Videos via YouTube user NBA
A sea of fans turned out to cheer the Lakers in China. (NBA on YouTube)