Kobe Bryant says he plans to return this season

LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant dismissed chatter he should sit out the remainder of this season because of his knee fracture and said he owes it to the Los Angeles Lakers to return as soon as possible.

"It's funny; I've read all the comments and things like that," Bryant said before the Lakers' Christmas game against the Miami Heat. "It can't help but feed into my focus. It's obviously not something I wanted to have happen. From that standpoint you have to look at the injury for exactly what it is.

"It's going to heal and be as strong as it ever was. I was fortunate that it wasn't a meniscus [tear] or anything else. There is nothing that I have to really do from a recovery standpoint other than to let the bone heal and the fracture heal."

The Lakers announced on Friday that Bryant is expected to be out six weeks with a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. He didn't think the injury was serious when he suffered it two nights earlier against the Memphis Grizzlies.

''I didn't know it was fractured,'' Bryant said. ''I was expecting a bone bruise more than anything else. I thought [the doctor] was joking when he told me.''

Bryant said he hasn't put much pressure on his legs since the injury and is riding a bike for his conditioning.

When asked if he can envision returning in four weeks or whether it would be better for him to take his time, Bryant said: "My philosophy on that stuff is to do your job. …You owe it to your organization and your teammates to get back as fast, as quickly, as you possibly can and as strong as you possibly can."

Bryant acknowledged the layoff gives his surgically repaired Achilles more time to heal – and gives him more time to learn how to cope with the soreness.

Bryant ruptured his left Achilles tendon on April 12 against the Golden State Warriors. He returned this season on Dec. 6 against the Toronto Raptors and averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in six games. Bryant said he doesn't believe his Achilles contributed to his knee fracture.

"It felt fine and strong," he said.

Bryant has played in an NBA-record 15 Christmas games. Wednesday's meeting with LeBron James and the Heat was the first he's had to sit out because of injury.

"It's strange to be coming in and not playing," he said.

Bryant was dressed in all black – shoes, slacks, T-shirt and blazer – and spoke in a low tone, but said his spirits are high.

"I feel more locked in now than I have my entire career because of [the injury]," he said. "… My focus is great. We'll just have to see what happens when I come back."