As most of you probably know, I recently had surgery to remove the plate and screws that were put in my ankle after I broke it in the opener. It’s not something we were expecting to be a part of this recovery process, but I’m happy to report that I’ll be back out there resuming rehab soon, with my sights set firmly on being back to my usual self for the start of next season.
The whole complication with the hardware in my ankle actually happened really, really fast.
I had been progressing really well. I had been doing cuts laterally. I was jumping. I hadn’t done anything that explosive and I wasn’t quite 100 percent with any of it, but I was slowly building up to that.
Problem was, I was also still having some pain on the outside of my ankle, kind of where the peroneal tendon is. I had been reporting back daily how I was feeling, and the team that I was working with in Indianapolis—along with the Celtics training staff—had surmised that it could be the hardware they put in during my initial surgery causing some irritation.
But it was hard for them to say with any certainty, because no one really knows what’s going on, how my body is reacting to the hardware, except for me.
And all I knew was that I was experiencing pain, and something didn’t feel right.
So I called up Dr. Porter, who collaborated on my surgery and who’s advised us throughout this process, just to ask what he thought. I explained to him what was going on, and he said it could be a couple different things, so we should do a test to figure out what it is. He told me that it could just be that my muscles were sore, and it was a strength issue, and I just needed to continue to rehab and have it get stronger, and eventually, it would go away. Or it could be something different.
But everyone was on board with wanting to get an answer for me as soon as possible.
So I flew back to Indianapolis and did what is called a Cybex test. Essentially, they used it to test the strength in both my ankles. The first round that I did the test, my left ankle was significantly weaker than my right. It was approximately 70 percent of the strength of the right ankle. On a test like that, 30 percent is a pretty significant number, so that raised some red flags.
Then Dr. Porter injected my left ankle with some local anesthetic to numb the area, and I did the same test again. That time, not only was my left 100 percent of the strength of my right, it was actually slightly stronger. That let Dr. Porter know that it was not a strength issue, but a pain issue, and the pain was basically blocking my progression.
That revelation made it pretty clear that it was the hardware that was causing the issue. According to both doctors, it is something that is very rare. Usually, you don’t have to take out the hardware. I remember when I got the surgery done in the first place, they told me, “We are probably not going to have to take out the hardware, but you never know.”
So we got on a conference call with Dr. Porter, and the doctors and staff in Boston, and collectively decided that we should take the hardware out of my ankle.
The next night I was in surgery. Dr. Porter went in and took out everything that they had put in my ankle. There were two incisions made to take all the stuff out. They took the plate, the screws and the tightrope that was in there. So now, I basically have a normal ankle—just there are some holes in the bone where they had to put the screws in, and those are going to heal up.
Honestly, I look it as a good thing more than anything, because when you introduce foreign objects into your body, anything can happen at any time. Sometimes your body rejects it or things happen; you get infections, and it could happen a year or years down the road. So it’s nice to know that I’m done with the plate and screws now, and that is not something I am going to have to worry about in the future.
They said the surgery went really well, and now I just have to let the incision (and my soft tissue in the places where they went in) recover properly. But that is a really easy recovery. And in probably four to six weeks I will be right back to the point where I was before I got the surgery, except for I won’t have that same pain.
So while having to go through that was pretty rare, things happen. Now we move on.
As I mentioned, before all this happened, I was feeling really good about my progress.
I was right at the beginning stages of playing real basketball again. In fact, the Friday before I had the surgery, I played one-on-one with Brandon Rush in Indianapolis, and felt really good about it. So it was not quite five-on-five, real basketball, but I was starting to ramp it up and was definitely due to get there in short order, and I was getting really excited about that.
I can’t say enough about that time I spent in Indianapolis, and how beneficial it was to my recovery. I’m very thankful to St. Vincent’s Sports Performance and their whole staff for helping me run again. That’s really what it was: learning how to run, learning how to jump again. And even though I just had a surgery and I have to do some of that over again, I think it is in my mind and it is already locked in. I did a lot of stuff, running mechanics-wise and jumping-wise, that I will for sure use here moving forward. I’ve already downloaded that software essentially, so it will go a lot faster the next time that I have to do it.
And that’s one thing the doctors have told me about this that made me feel better—this recovery is going to be a lot faster than the last one.
For a couple weeks, I was kind of back to the stage that I was at when I first got hurt. I was back in the boot for a week, and had to wait to get the sutures out, so I couldn’t do much. I’d go to the facility and work on all the stuff that I can do.
But I’ve been out of the boot for about two weeks now though. So I’m excited to get back to it. I think at the recovery pace I’m currently on, I’ll probably start running again in July.
Once I get started, I’ll be jogging, then running, and then cutting and moving, and all that could happen within one to two weeks of each other, to where by the end of July I am playing full court, five-on-five basketball. And that’s probably the most exciting thing I could tell all of you.
SUMMER IN BEANTOWN
But these past few weeks have given me a good chance to spend some time with family.
It’s been great just to be back at the house, not just be in a hotel. While I was training in Indianapolis, I was spending five days a week in a hotel and then two or three days with the family on the weekends. So just to have a normal routine with the family—have breakfast and dinner every day with everyone—has been awesome.
The girls are definitely getting old fast. Both of them have birthdays this summer. Bernie just turned three a few weeks ago, so we had a little birthday party for her at the house. And the cool part about that was that she understands and gets it now—that it is her special day, and that the balloons and everything are for her. It is really cool to see her grow up and see Charlie as well. That is life, and it’s the cool part of having little kids. I love watching them grow.
We’ve got some fun things planned for our first real summer in Boston. Everyone around the Celtics facility keeps telling me that I’ve got to go see the cape, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard, and all that stuff. So we might take a trip out there some time. And there’s so much to explore right in the city that we haven’t really gotten to do yet. I’m looking forward to it.
FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Before I log off, I have to give a shout out to our team for their incredible playoff run this year.
I’m just so impressed with the guys who stepped up and with everybody fighting through adversity. I wrote about it in previous blogs, but we did a lot of great things and went further than anyone expected. Most importantly, guys progressed a lot further than they were expected to for such a young team. To have two guys go down for the playoffs and still win two series and come within a game of the Finals, that’s something to be proud of. And I still think we should have won the Cleveland series. We just couldn’t throw it in the ocean that last game.
Watching LeBron, though, I can say this: He is an amazing basketball player. What he is able to do on the basketball court, night in and night out — as I have said for the last three years we have been doing the blog — is just ridiculous. It was good to be able to see it up close, and it really made me want to get out there and compete against him.
But I’m really happy with how our team performed as a whole, and I think it shows a glimpse of what we’re capable of. After missing some of the games to train out in Indy, it felt good to be there, to be able support the guys during the Eastern Conference Finals, and to experience the atmosphere. Our fans are incredible. It was electric in the Garden, and it only makes me more excited to play next year.
We go into next season with a lot of options, high expectations, and a lot of reason for optimism.
I’ve talked with Kyrie, and I know he is progressing really well, and plans to start training hard pretty soon. We’ve both been itching to re-join these guys after watching what they did in the postseason.
Even before last season, just being around guys like Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown through training camp, I thought those guys were really good, and it was just going to be a matter of gaining experience for them. Now they have gained really, really valuable experience, and I think it just makes us even better next year.
It will almost be like a pick-your-poison type deal, especially if somebody is not having their best game. You’ve got three, four, even five other guys that can pick it up for you, and that is a good problem to have. You can never have too many options, and we’ve got a coach in Brad Stevens who knows how to put everyone in a position to be successful better than anyone. I know he will be able to figure it out.
I also know that there isn’t going to be any ego. The guys that we have on the team, we want to win a title. And if everyone has that mindset, then nothing else matters.