Indiana Pacers of USA youngster, Victor Oladipo has opted not to feature in this month’s eagerly awaited resumption competition of America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) in Disney World, Orlando, Florida, megasportsarena.com reports.
Oladipo said he had to withdraw because he cannot fix his mind to be comfortable in playing for his team, having only returned from a year-long bout with injury in January, and admits that his mind is yet to fully recover from the agonizing torn quad tendon.
He suffered the injury nearly a year prior and, though it had been diagnosed back then that it would require about two years to fully recover, he was back after a year and even featured in 13 games before the league went on hiatus in March, due to the incursion of coronavirus.
However, unique aspects of a shortened season have been arranged for a conclusion through one-centre championship play-offs for the NBA, which Oladipo fears could put his rehabilitation backward, considering that there would be limited time for him to rest between matches.
Consequently, the Cupid-faced Nigerian-born lad will not be there when the NBA season gets back into full steam on July 30 at Disney World near Orlando, with a shortened conclusion format to the regular season for 22 teams with the playoffs to follow.
The Pacers (39-26) are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference along with Philadelphia 76ers, but Oladipo has opted out after he weighed whether it was worth it to set that rehabilitation back to play in such conditions.
The 28-year-old Oladipo has been training with his physical therapist, Luke Miller, during the time out, but the player is still playing safe, even after the fitness expert has disclosed that the point guard has not had any setbacks and is already close to his best qualities before the knock.
Miller told The Athletic: “It’s not worrisome, the quad tendon itself — it’s the other soft tissues around it. Research shows that within about two years, coming back from a major injury and major surgery, these guys are more susceptible to an injury because of quad deficit.
“It’s a lot to ask Vic to come back in three weeks from five-on-five and play in playoff games. Soft tissue has to adapt. The only way it can adapt is by loading. This is a concern for every medical staff, every player here entering the return.
“We’re not worried about the tendon; it’s something else that could happen which an eight-week window after the season is very short. This is about mental health too. The comfort level of going into the bubble — having a three-hour window for practice … I can’t go into his room to treat him — there’s a lot of questions we have about that.”
Nonetheless, the former No. 2 pick and two-time All-Star player, a key piece for The Pacers’ squad, would rather play safe to avoid any relapse, even as he eyes a return to the form he held before the injury and showed flashes when he returned for some games early in the pandemic.
His presence could make Pacers a major threat in the Eastern Conference, with the team having sat fifth in standings when the league was suspended in March, but the lad who has averaged 20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in three seasons for Indiana, still has fearful thoughts about how he missed more than a year because of the ruptured quadriceps tendon.
The possibility of players being forced to miss matches in the event that they are infected with coronavirus is a potential issue that Oladipo is also looking at; even as he stressed worries over the chance of a regular basketball injury could be heightened by the speed of the resumption.
Oladipo, who is the latest in a growing list of NBA players that will not enter the Florida fray, told The Athletic: “I really want to play, and as a competitor and teammate this is tearing me apart. I feel like I’m at a great place in my rehab and getting closer and closer to 100 percent.
“With all the variables, from how I have to build my 5-on-5 workload back up, to the increased risk of a soft tissue injury which could delay my rehab, and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing.
“I have to be smart and this decision hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe continuing on the course I’m on and getting fully healthy for the 2020-21 season is the right decision for me.”