LOS ANGELES—The “Black Mamba” is back. Nearly nine months after suffering a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has been medically cleared to participate in all basketball activities.
Bleacher Report first reported the news on Thursday, September 17.
The 37-year-old played in just 35 games last season before injuring his shoulder while dunking in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans in late-January. His previous two seasons were also cut short by Achilles and knee injuries.
Bryant is expected to participate fully in the team’s upcoming training camp in Hawaii, which begins at the end of September, according to a recent USA Today interview with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
The five-time NBA Champion averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists last year, but he made a career-worst 37.3 percent of his shots playing in just a quarter of the teams games before getting hurt.
Without Bryant, the Lakers finished the 2014-15 season with a record of 21-61, the fourth worst record in the league and the worst record in franchise history.
This year will be Bryant’s 20th year with the Lakers franchise and also his final year of a contract worth a league-high $25 million. He has said that he’ll decide if he wants to retire after this season.
The Lakers nor Bryant have commented since the news was first reported, but the team’s Twitter page confirmed Bryant’s health with this tweet on Friday, September 18:
Kobe (shoulder surgery) has been fully cleared medically and is expected to be ready to begin his 20th Lakers training camp.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 18, 2015
In his last healthy season (before he missed the final few games with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon), Bryant averaged 27.3 points on 46.3 percent from the field.
A healthy Bryant playing alongside other talents like second-year guard Jordan Clarkson, veteran Nick Young, the NBA’s Sixth-Man-of-the-Year last season, Louis Williams, and the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, D’Angelo Russell could shake up to be a pretty successful backcourt this season.