One of my most memorable NBA seasons to watch was in 2013. I remember when it was about to open up and all of the talk was on the top level returning players.
It centered around an ACL tear, two knee surgeries and an achilles strain from arguably the three top backcourt players in the league; Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant. All were all returning from major injuries from the year before.
An the big question on the lips of every fan, coach and general manager was: “Will they be the same?”
I’m never going to put myself into the same category as Rose, Westbrook and Bryant, but the same question presented itself to me after nine games in the 2015-2016 season as I learned of a bone cyst the size of a golf ball in the back of my left knee.
I instantly was forced to redirect my focus and drive from playing basketball to rehabbing my injury.
While we all remember the signature moments of some great athletes, we also know that there is a flipside, a side that is filled with pain and agony that no longer looks at the athlete’s physical problem. In that moment in time after a season ending injury, we get a more serious glimpse into the soul of a player and of a team.
I honestly just felt like I was letting my team down. I fought to keep playing but understood that there was nothing I could do. The cyst in my knee affected my everyday life too. There were days I just didn’t want to be at the gym. It took away from my work ethic and my drive to be the best player I could be because it was so painful to play through. It affected me mentally and at times emotionally and took away from my ability to be a leader.
I just wanted to be out there playing, to be around my best friends and to be doing something I’ve loved all my life.
Knowing I had the opportunity to accept a medical red shirt year, I decided to get surgery and to get the cyst removed. I accepted the red shirt season and now know I can try my best to make a comeback.
Guy Lafleur, who was a professional Canadian hockey player, said one of my favorite quotes: “That’s why I made a comeback in 1988. I knew there were chances of not making it, but I didn’t want to end up at 60 years old and say I should have tried when I was 38.”
Every athlete loves their respective sport for a certain reason. I love basketball for the process. I love it for the relationships it brings on a daily basis and even though I want a major comeback and I want to show how good I can be, I know that if I trust the process everything will be fine.