Bryant sits out scrimmage
Kobe Bryant is determined to put on a good show and take care of his surgically repaired right knee at the same time.
Bryant got some rehab work in while the Los Angeles Lakers scrimmaged during practice Sunday, training separately in the weight room. The guard is working his way back after the offseason knee operation but is planning to play in Monday's preseason opener against Minnesota Timberwolves, hoping to please a London crowd eager to see one of basketball's biggest stars.
''You feel a sense of responsibility, which adds to you wanting to go out there and play,'' Bryant said after practice, wearing large ice bags taped to both knees. ''You have the opportunity to play in front of fans who have never seen you play in person. I never get that chance with this particular club.''
Bryant completed a full practice Saturday, only his second since training camp began, and said his knee was constantly improving.
''It feels real good,'' he said.
Coach Phil Jackson plans to play Bryant and the rest of his regular starters for about eight minutes to start the game. Their playing time in the second half depends on how the game is going, he said.
The Lakers are without starting center Andrew Bynum, who also underwent knee surgery in the offseason, and backup forward Luke Walton will miss Los Angeles' two preseason games in Europe after aggravating a strained right hamstring in practice.
Jackson insisted Bryant wasn't risking his health by taking part in the game.
''If it would back him up in his progress at all, he wouldn't play,'' Jackson said. ''But he'll come out there, I think, and play.''
The teams continued their preparations as planned Sunday amid heightened terror concerns. The State Department issued a travel alert for Europe on Sunday that advises U.S. citizens living or traveling there to take more precautions about their personal security.
The NBA said it was ''taking all appropriate security measures'' for the teams taking part in the tour. The New York Knicks play Italian team Olimpia Milano in Milan later Sunday. After Monday's game, Minnesota travels to Paris to play the Knicks on Wednesday, while the Lakers take on Barcelona in Spain on Thursday.
In London, both teams practiced as scheduled on Sunday at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in south London. Some Timberwolves were set to mingle with Londoners in a fan zone set up on the south bank of the Thames River later in the day, while Bryant and his Lakers teammates were attending the Premier League game between London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.
''Players who go out, they're giving them some additional security,'' Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. ''But has anything been addressed with everybody? No, not yet.''
For Minnesota forward Kevin Love, the return to Europe comes less than a month after he helped the United States win the world championship in Turkey. Even with the comfort of a gold medal, such a short offseason is taking a toll.
''I'm still getting my legs underneath me,'' Love said. ''I'm 22 years old, I don't really have an excuse for having no legs. I'm just lifting weights for my legs, getting off my feet, doing everything I can just to be ready for the 82-game season that lies ahead.''
The Timberwolves are the youngest team in the league and Love is one of only five players who return from the roster that won just 15 games last season. Being a world champion seems to already have elevated his stature on the team.
''I get more respect than I've had the previous two years, especially I think around the league too,'' Love said. ''So that's nice, and I want to continue to build on that success. If we really have team success this year and in years to come, everyone's respect level will go up.''