Updated 11:23 AM EST, Mon, Jan 18, 2021

Kobe Bryant Return Update: L.A. Lakers All-Star Denies Plans to Sit Out Rest of NBA Season

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The Los Angeles Lakers are on pace to miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season, but superstar guard Kobe Bryant said on Sunday that he is still planning to return this season.

In an interview with ESPN Los Angeles, Bryant, who is currently recovering from a left knee injury, denied rumors suggesting that he is planning to sit out the remainder of the season to keep himself fresh for next season.

"My plan hasn't changed," Bryant said. "I'm just going about it every single day just trying to get better. That's my job. My job is to get my butt back out there on the court when I'm healthy enough to play and that hasn't changed."

The 35-year-old superstar guard has been sidelined since Dec. 17 due to a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, which he sustained in just his sixth game since recovering from a torn Achilles that forced him to miss the Lakers' first 19 games this season.

Bryant, who was named an All-Star for the 16th time in his career, but was replaced by Anthony Davis, is scheduled to be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.

When asked about a possible return date, Bryant said that everything is still out of his control, but he vowed to play with the same level of confidence once he recovers from the latest setback in his storied NBA career.

"That I don't know," Bryant said of his return date. "It's completely out of my control. I really got to sit here and just wait until this thing heals up and then go out there and do what I do."

Bryant, who averaged 13.8 points to go along with 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds in six games this season, said that his recovery has been a rough ride for him, as he is aching to help the Lakers get out of the current hole they are in.

The 18-year veteran admitted that it has been painful to watch his teammates lose games, but he doesn't intend to rush his return to avoid bigger setbacks.

"It's been rough," Bryant said. "I've been just riding the bike, trying to stay active, stay in shape, spend a lot of time with my family, which really helps to kind of balance it out. But I hate not being there with the guys and watching them going through that period that they're going through. It's very, very tough."

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