Hard scrimmage doesn't ease Bryant's woe

Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2003

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Kobe Bryant went through his hardest scrimmage of the preseason Saturday, and he sounded downcast afterward.

''Every day is a bad day,'' Bryant said.

''You just kind of take the good with it. We'll get through this situation. Every storm has to end. The sunshine is a rainbow after every storm, so you just go along with it.''

Bryant is expected to learn Monday whether he will stand trial in Eagle, Colo., on a sexual assault charge.

A 19-year-old woman accused the Los Angeles Lakers' All-Star guard of raping her June 30 at the mountain resort where she worked. Bryant has said the two had consensual sex.

Coach Phil Jackson gave a day off to all the Lakers age 30 and older. That left Bryant to scrimmage with several members of the preseason roster who will not be on the team when the regular season begins.

The day's final scrimmage ended with the ball being deflected downcourt, where Bryant picked it up and had no one between him and the basket. Rather than dunk the ball, he made a layup.

''I don't have my explosiveness yet, but my conditioning for some reason feels good,'' said Bryant, who sat out the team's first five exhibition games while recovering from knee and shoulder surgeries.

Bryant was vocal during the scrimmage, encouraging the young players and keeping up with most of them as the team ran wind sprints.

''I enjoy competition. More so than anything, I enjoy pushing some of the younger players here, motivating them and challenging them, bringing the best out of them, pushing their buttons,'' he said.

He had not spoken to the media in more than a week and had been staying out of public view, watching the Lakers' two exhibition games at Staples Center from the players' lounge.

Until Saturday, Bryant's usual practice routine consisted of 45 minutes on an exercise bike followed by weightlifting.

He ruled out playing Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers but said he'll be in the lineup for the final two exhibition games: Thursday against the Clippers and Friday against Sacramento. Bryant will get his first opportunity to practice with veterans Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

''It'll be good for everybody to get out there and get two games under our belt, get some type of rhythm and understanding of how to play the game,'' Bryant said.

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