SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kobe Bryant won’t descend from the heavens Sunday, although he’s known for arriving at Staples Center by helicopter. He won’t be backlit by a shimmering aureole, nor will a John Williams-led orchestra strike up a dramatic score every time he records a, well, dramatic score.
But the Laker closest to deity status will make his season debut Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, and for a tested NBA team that has patiently awaited the return of its superstar, that is more than enough.
“You definitely saw in practice that he felt ready,” Lakers center Robert Sacre said. “It didn’t look like anything was wrong with him.”
Bryant has been out because of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon since April, when he led a push to get the Lakers into the playoffs.
“We got ourselves in a hole,” Coach Mike D’Antoni said, reflecting on the injury, “and he had to play incredibly hard to get us back in the playoffs, he did it and then he goes down.”
The Lakers revealed Bryant’s comeback plans in a dramatic video linked to both his and the team’s Facebook pages.
Bryant has practiced seven times with the Lakers since Nov. 16, and will again on Saturday — before making his debut. On Thursday, Bryant said he felt 100 percent in terms of conditioning, but was still working to get what he termed his “sea legs” to match.
“Sunday will be a tough game,” guard Jodie Meeks said, “but with him back we’ll play with a lot of confidence.”