The media crush that was expected for Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers calmed considerably when it became known Kobe Bryant would not make his season debut at Sleep Train Arena.
The attention will shift to Los Angeles on Sunday when Bryant makes his debut against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center.
Bryant has been out since April 12 when he ruptured an Achilles’ tendon in a game against the Warriors. He was expected to miss six to nine months.
Bryant made the announcement via his Facebook page in a video. It shows a Bryant gold Lakers jersey suspended in the air as it goes through various weather climates and rips, only to be shown whole at the end in the sun with the message “THE LEGEND CONTINUES ... DECEMBER 8.”
Bryant is fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list and should pass Michael Jordan for third this season if he stays healthy. Bryant trails Jordan by 675 points.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni expects Bryant to be “dominant” on the court.
“In practice he’s looked good, but we’ll have to wait until we get to game time,” D’Antoni said. “A different level.”
It was D’Antoni who first hinted Bryant might make his return against the Kings. Bryant has plenty of history with the Kings, including the many memorable moments from playoff games against them more than 10 years ago.
Bryant ruled himself out of Friday’s game on Wednesday. He did not make the trip to Sacramento.
D’Antoni said it would be nice to move past all the talk of Bryant’s return but realizes the alternative is not having his best player back.
“I’m probably more excited about having it,” D’Antoni said.
Reno-bound – The Kings announced that backup center Hamady Ndiaye had been assigned to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns.
Ndiaye earned a spot on the team during training camp to add depth in the frontcourt with Carl Landry out after tearing his left hip flexor.
Ndiaye has appeared in nine games for the Kings, averaging 0.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.8 minutes. He was assigned to the Bighorns in time for their game against the Santa Cruz Warriors in Reno.
Ndiaye is the second King to be assigned to the Bighorns this season. Rookie guard Ray McCallum played three games with Reno.
Et cetera – Today’s game at Utah will mark the fifth time the Kings have played back-to-back games this season. The Kings are 1-3 in the second of back-to-back games.
The only win came in Phoenix on Nov. 20.
• Today’s game is the only road game in a stretch where the Kings play six of seven at home. After hosting Utah on Wednesday, the Kings will play seven of 10 games on the road.