By Barry Janoff
December 6, 2013: Like the United State Postal Service, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays Kobe Bryant from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.
Bryant, 35, who has been out of action for the Los Angeles Lakers since April due to surgery and rehabilitation for a torn left Achilles tendon, posted a video to his Facebook page today (Dec. 6) that signaled his official return to the court: Dec. 8 against the Toronto Raptors in Staples Center.
The video, which runs 2:08, opens with the text, "Seasons Of Legend," then, played out to an increasingly dramatic overture, shows Bryant's No. 24 Lakers jersey being battered by the elements, including heat, wind, rain, sleet, lightning and snow.
The jersey ultimately succumbs to the abuse, and is seen hanging crumpled and torn. But, like Kobe's return, a new day rises and the jersey is rebuilt, refreshed and ready for more action.
Closing text offers, "The Legend Continues . . . December 8." (See the full video here.)
NBA TV already has said it would show the game live (9:30 PM ET).
Bryant has more than 17.4 million "Likes" on his Facebook page.
Bryant's return comes on the heels of his two-year contract extension with the Lakers, unveiled on Nov. 26 and valued at $48.5 million; and coincides with the release of his latest signature shoe from Nike, the Kobe 9, a high-top design that uses proprietary Flyknit and Flywire technologies.
According to Nike, "The Kobe 9 fully wraps around the ankle, and the back of the shoe sports nine red detailed lines, which are meant to symbolize Bryant’s Achilles sutures." Nike said that the 18-year veteran and 15-time All-Star would be wearing the shoe when he returns to the court.
This week also saw the release of a marketing campaign and TV spot with Bryant and international soccer star Lionel Messi supporting Turkish Airlines.
The day prior to the video's release, Bryant was working out with his Lakers teammates and, when asked by members of the media about his return, gave the indication he was not ready to commit.
"I'm trying," Bryant said. "We've got to see how it feels tonight. I'm going to try to get another hard session in and then [Friday] morning try to push it again, and the same thing tomorrow evening. [I'll] continue to just keep on measuring it."
On Friday, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni told members of the media that the odds of Bryant returning on Sunday were "pretty good."
The Lakers play in Sacramento against the Kings tonight (Dec. 6) but Bryant planned to remain in Los Angeles. After Toronto, the Lakers play the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night (Dec. 10) in Los Angeles.
Kobe-Messi Faux Feud Take Flight In Turkish Airlines Selfie Shootout
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