Kobe Bryant might still be months away from being able to run and jump following Achilles surgery in April, but there is an ardent supporter in Bryant's corner who swears that he'll come all the way back and then some.

Dwight Howard chose to go far, far away from Bryant, but Shaquille O'Neal has come back around to offer his full support to his former teammate.

"Kobe's a tough competitor," O'Neal said on a conference call Wednesday to promote his involvement in Adam Sandler's new movie, "Grown Ups 2," which opens in theaters Friday. "He loves when everyone doubts him. Of course at (almost) 35, they're saying he's done, but Kobe will show the world that he can play at a high level until he's 40. I know with the rehab, he's probably only supposed to do it once a day. I know for a fact he's doing it twice, if not three times a day. He tells everybody he's coming back in December, but if he could, he would like to be ready at the start of the season. That's how much he's going to push this thing to try to get to 100 percent."

O'Neal's praise of Bryant carries even more weight when you consider that it was a torn Achilles that ended his career in 2011, when he was a 39-year-old playing in his 19th season as a member of the Boston Celtics.

"It was a career-ending injury," O'Neal said. "There should have been one more year left on the deal, but I was like, 'Nah, I'm older.' I was always used to dominating and playing at a high level. When I was with the Celtics, it was more of like a reserve role and I really wasn't comfortable with that. I didn't want to be in anybody's way and I just wanted to give somebody else a chance -- like a young guy, if they wanted to sign anybody else."

Why didn't O'Neal persevere through the injury and try to give it one last try to extend his career, the way that Bryant is dubbing his comeback "The Last Chapter"?

"Basically, I was just tired," O'Neal said. "I didn’t want to do rehab. I didn't want to fight to come back and all that."

Just like Lakers fans will always remember Bryant going to the floor untouched after trying to drive past the Golden State Warriors' Harrison Barnes, O'Neal's injury is still burned into his head.