Following the Lakers' 111-106 victory over the Jazz in their preseason finale, coach Mike D'Antoni ruled out the 15-time All-Star guard for the much-anticipated, nationally-televised opening night match-up.
"No, my God," D'Antoni replied, when asked if Bryant would play. "I know he's Superman, but my God. He hasn't run yet."
The post-game press conference, which marked D'Antoni's first definitive assessment of Bryant's opening night availability, was videotaped by LakersNation.com.
L.A. completed its exhibition slate with a 4-4 record.
Bryant underwent Achilles surgery in mid-April and his initial timeline was set at 6-to-9 months. He told reporters two weeks ago that he would need roughly “three weeks” of conditioning before he was ready to go, suggesting that he would be out for the season opener.
Earlier this week, the five-time champion told reporters that he had "scaled back" his activity following the Lakers' return from a tour through Asia.
While in China, Bryant did his best to preach a patient approach.
"The hardest part is not thinking ahead," Bryant said in target="_blank">videotaped comments. "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 spent a portion of his offseason wearing a boot following his 2012-13 season-ending surgery. In August, he was cleared to run on an anti-gravity treadmill. The Associated Press reports that Bryant's training regimen has advanced to jogging.
“I’ve got to get my fat ass in shape,” Bryant joked earlier this month. “Six months of eating whatever the hell I wanted to eat and not running, stuff like that. I’ve got to get in shape.”
That self-deprecating “fat ass” quip came one day after he discussed his recent trip to Germany for platelet-rich plasma therapy on his right knee during an in-game interview aired on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
“It’s going well, I feel good,” he said, during the Lakers’ preseason win over the Nuggets on Oct. 8. “Obviously I feel like I’m ahead of schedule. It’s about kind of getting that range of motion where I feel like I can run comfortably. The last stage is really the explosiveness and the muscle endurance and that will come.” Bryant, 35, is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him an NBA-high $30.5 million. He needs just 676 points to move past Michael Jordan for the No. 3 spot on the all-time scoring list.