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Lakers News: Kobe Bryant returns to shooting for first time since tearing rotator cuff

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Kobe Bryant is back where he belongs: on a basketball court.

If the Los Angeles Lakers hope to have any chance of outperforming analyst expectations and climbing out of the Western Conference basement, one of the things they will need is a healthy season from Kobe Bryant. Bryant has missed the majority of the last two seasons with injuries, and heading into his 20th and likely final season in the NBA fans are hoping the future Hall of Famer can make it through the 2015-16 campaign mostly unscathed.

After presenting singer Taylor Swift with a banner in Staples Center honoring her 16 sold out shows at the venue on Friday night, Bryant was right back in the gym Saturday morning. This is significant because in doing so Bryant took the next step towards getting back on the court for games that matter, posting a selfie on Instagram denoting that it was his first time back on the court shooting since his most recent injury, a season ending tear of his rotator cuff in his right shoulder:

First day back on the court shooting! Bout damn time!! #shoulderrecovery #20thseason @drinkbodyarmor #lakers

A photo posted by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

August 22nd is slightly behind the timetable Bryant set for himself when he told Sina Sports during the broadcast of the 2015 NBA Finals that he hoped to begin shooting in a month and a half, but it is also a good sign that Bryant was willing to wait to get back out on the court until his shoulder was totally ready. If Bryant really hopes to "shock the world" with the Lakers' new rookie and 2015 NBA Draft second overall pick D'Angelo Russell, but to do that he needs to stay on the court. How he is able to handle big steps in his rehab like shooting today will determine whether Bryant is able to make his final season a successful one.