SHENZHEN CITY, GUANGDONG PROVINCE, CHINA (AUGUST 4, 2013) (REUTERS) - NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant said on Saturday (August 4) that he "shattered" the normal rehabilitation timetable for an Achilles tendon injury while he visitedsouthern China.
The 34-year-old Los Angeles Lakers player had undergone surgery in April, pulling him out of the season prematurely.
"It's good, you know, it's feeling strong. It's getting... I work on it every single day," Bryant said.
The basketball player said the surgical procedure he chose was "innovative" and had paid off well.
"It was pretty innovative, the procedure that we did, in terms of how we attach the tendon and where it was torn. And you know, it's really complicated procedures that they normally do -- and taking tendons from the big toe and bring it -- and, you know, I don't want to bore you guys with nasty stuff. But we really simplified the procedure, and kind of took a risk with it, a calculated risk, and it's been very successful for us," Bryant said.
A recent interview given by Lakers officials indicated that Bryant is recovering ahead of schedule, but the NBA giant did not pinpoint whether he would be ready to play pre-season.
"We don't know. That's the thing about this injury, it's that the surgical procedure was different, how we did it was different. And because of that, the recovery has been different, the timetable has been different. You know, the normal timetable for recovering for an Achilles -- we've shattered that. Three and a half months, I can already walk just fine, I'm doing and lifting weights with the Achilles just fine, and that's different. We don't know what that timetable's gonna be. It's just kind of, it's new territory for us all," he said.
The five-times NBA champion then went to greet thousands of Chinese fans, who flocked to not just the sports shop he was due to appear at, but also the area outside and into the side streets surrounding it.
Organisers announced the crowd was 25,000-strong. Riot police in helmets stood on guard in at least one side street.
Some fans climbed up trees in hopes of catching a glimpse of the star, while others tried to cling onto a small stage designated for staff.
The crowd chanted "Kobe, Kobe" when their idol emerged from the shop, waved and threw autographed basketballs into the sea of people.
Some policemen were also seen taking photos with their phones.
One fan broke down in tears during an interview and said Bryant was a god to him.
"He's like a god. Really. When I saw him, I got very emotional, I cried non-stop, my tears couldn't stop flowing. When I saw him on the big screen, I just kept crying. When everyone saw him, really... I got so emotional," said 27-year-old computer technician Wang Li-zhuo.
Another fan who travelled 24 hours by train to see Bryant said he admired how he keeps playing despite his age.
"He is a role model. His spirit is strong, he is not afraid of injuries and he keeps playing. He is so old, but he keeps playing. He still wants to be a champion. We should all learn from his spirit," said 17-year-old student Cheng Tai.
Bryant is the highest-paid player in the NBA next season at $30.5 million, according to reports.