Rajon Rondo has returned to practice, and, according to his coach, the Celtics point guard’s return is entirely up to him, but Ricky Rubio knows recovery from ACL surgery isn’t over when you step back on the court.
“It’s hard,” said Rubio, who scored just six points on 2-of-12 shooting in a 101-97 loss to the Celtics. “It depends on how he feels and how he tries his knee. It’s something I’ve been through, and I can tell you from what I’ve been through that it wasn’t easy. It took a tong time, and even when I was playing, it took a couple months for me to be myself again. Everybody’s different, so I wish and I hope the best for him, but from what I felt, it’s hard.”
Rubio tore his left anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments when his left knee buckled while trying to defend Kobe Bryant in the final moments of a loss to the Lakers on March 9, 2012, just under a year before Rondo tore his right ACL in the final minutes of a double-overtime loss to the Hawks on Jan. 25 of this year.
Surgery cost the Timberwolves point guard the final seven weeks of his rookie season, when he averaged 10.6 points and 8.2 assists in his first 41 games after leaving Spain in 2011, and then missed the first six weeks of his sophomore campaign before returning on Dec. 15. That’s a total of 281 days. And it was another two months before he returned to form, averaging just 4.2 points and 4.0 assists in his first two weeks back, 5.4 points and 5.7 assists in January of last season and finally 12.8 points and 9.5 assists in February 2013.
“As a point guard, what came back quicker is the feel of playing with your teammates, but then the legs — I was 0.2, 0.5 seconds late, and that’s a lot in basketball,” said Rubio, whose averages (9.6 ppg, 8.2 apg) are somewhat constant this season. “And for a point guard who takes risks with the ball and takes his shots, you feel you’re not 100 percent yet, but it something that you have to take with the rhythm of the game and learn on it.”
Rondo passed the 281-day mark a week before the season started. Monday’s victory against the Timberwolves marked Day 325, and he isn’t expected to make his debut until the calendar turns — almost a year after his injury signaled the end of a Celtics era. Even then, said Rubio, it could be a while before we see the real Rajon Rondo.
“It’s nothing that clicks and one day to the other you change and you’re 100 percent,” added Rubio. “It’s something you went step by step and little by little. One day, I was feeling good, and another day I was feeling even better and better. It’s something I worked hard to get through and to come back is harder.”