Another Bulls preseason game, another young point guard that, like Derrick Rose, is recovering from an ACL surgery. Actually, Oklahoma City backup Eric Maynor—a starter in place of All-Star Russell Westbrook in Tuesday’s contest; Westbrook and NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant each logged a DNP-CD, so Thunder head coach Scott Brooks could evaluate the rest of his roster—is technically recovered from his knee injury after missing almost all of last season.
Maynor, who was quietly regarded as one of the league’s top second-stringers at his position, suffered his torn ligament on Jan. 7 of last season against the Houston Rockets in the Thunder’s ninth game of the campaign. He became a forgotten man to many, as Oklahoma City made it to the NBA Finals, with veteran Derek Fisher filling in for him, but although he wasn’t playing, Maynor was never out of the loop.
“It was tough from the start of it because I’ve never been hurt before, but I carried on and started getting better, day by day. I had to push myself every day to get back to where I wanted to be,” explained Maynor, who is probably best known for hitting a dramatic shot to upset Duke when he played at pre-Final Four VCU. “It was tough at first, getting back out there, even working out. Just not knowing if I could get the step back that I had and all the moves, the quickness.
“I was away from the team for a little bit, then I couldn’t stand it because I was at home, not doing anything, so then I started traveling with the team and I traveled for the rest of the year,” he continued. “That was really better because sometimes you’ll be at home and you’re sitting there by yourself, just bored and thinking too much. When I got with my teammates, they were able to push me every day, whether we were at home or on the road.”
Chimed in Brooks: “Well, we kept him involved quite a bit. As soon as he was able to travel, he was traveling with us. He was at every shootaround, every meeting, every film session, and I had myself and the assistant coaches always talk to him.
“I always had him tell me about the game, give me kind of like a verbal scouting report of what he thought of the game, what he thought of the players, what he thought we could have done better and I also had him give me a few plays to draw up. I used a few of them; they didn’t work too well, but he would come back the next game and try to give me some more,” he added. “He’s a thinking man’s player. He’s a point guard that loves the game, he’s cerebral. That’s how he has success in this league. He’s not going to blow by you and dunk over you. What he’s going to do is he’s going to outsmart you and he’s done a great job with that.”
While Maynor is a different player than Rose, he has advice from his own experience that could apply to the Bulls superstar.
“With me, it took time and everybody that I’ve talked to that had the injury, you could say this and say that, but it’s different when you get out there and start going up and down, especially against the best players in the world. I think it’s different with me because I was never speed, speed, speed, speed. It’s like I’m back to where I was, but D-Rose, he’s fast all the time, so he’s going to have to work to get that back, but I know he’s going to keep working and he’ll be straight,” said Maynor, who added that he hasn’t been in contact with either Rose or Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio, another young floor general working through the same injury. “There’s going to be good days, there’s going to be bad days, but you just have to keep working throughout all of it.
“That’s the thing: You don’t want to rush anything, so I would advise both of those guys to make sure you’re ready to come back,” he went on to say. “Now I feel good playing.”
Brooks said that only last month was he positive that Maynor was back to his old self, but since then, he’s been just as confident in the savvy point guard as he was in the past,
“He’s done a great job with his rehab, with our medical team and he’s put the time in. I knew he was back in September, when he started to play pickup games,” he explained. “The next step was to play five-on-five. Once I saw that, I knew that it was just getting some of the rust off his game and that’s moving along pretty good.
“You have to fight through every day. You can’t take days off, you can’t get down on yourself or down on the situation. You have to continue to fight with a good, positive attitude and that’s what Eric has done, and from what I understand, that’s what Derrick is doing also. It comes back. Eric hasn’t lost any of his quickness or strength. I never had an ACL injury, but that’s probably one of the things as an athlete, you fear you’re not going to be the same. But you will be the same with the work that you put in, with the type of care that players have. You will be the same, if not better.”
Durant, friends with Rose since they won a gold medal in the 2010 FIBA World Championships, also shared his opinion.
“I haven’t talked to him, but people that I know him, I just told them that I know he’s going to get back stronger and better. I’ve been praying for him, of course. I’ve been watching the videos online, so I’m sure he’s going to have a really nice comeback year for the Bulls and be at full strength,” he said. “I think he’ll be better with all that weight training he’s been doing to strengthen his body and his core. He’s doing everything that he needs to do.
Thunder reserve DeAndre Liggins—a Chicago native who attended Washington High School and lost to Rose in the 2007 city title game—expressed a similar sentiment.
“I know he’s a competitive guy and he’s trying to get back as quickly as he can. He’s a humble dude and a great ballplayer. I just hope he gets back well and continues to be great in the NBA,” he told CSNChicago.com. “Derrick’s going to be back pretty quickly because I know how hard he’s trying to get back and I know his rehab is very aggressive, so I know he’s a competitive guy and he wants to get back to prove himself again.”
, Final Four
, Houston Rockets
, Oklahoma City Thunder
, Kevin Durant
, Derrick Rose
, Chicago Bulls
, Aggrey Sam
, Derek Fisher
, eric maynor
, scott brooks
, DeAndre Liggins