SAN ANTONIO — With the San Antonio Spurs set to report to the team facilities Monday for media day, point guard Tony Parker received some positive news Friday when doctors cleared him to participate in the club’s upcoming training camp, after he suffered a season-ending torn quadriceps tendon in May during the Western Conference semifinals.
“The thing is, I did an MRI on Friday, and the doctor said they were really happy with the MRI,” Parker told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “It looked very good. So they cleared me. But it’s still going to be like another, I think, two months to get back in shape and getting my leg stronger.”
Parker, 35, originally suffered the ruptured left quadriceps tendon during San Antonio’s 121-96 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. While the severity of Parker’s injury left pundits to ponder whether it was career threatening, the point guard said he never considered retirement.
In addition, the organization never issued a specific timeline for Parker’s return, and the point guard mentioned early on during his rehabilitation that he expected to return to the court in January.
“I was more frustrated because I was playing so well, and the team was playing well,” Parker told The Undefeated. “We were getting ready to play the Warriors in the conference finals, and it was just frustrating. Never in my mind was I sad or I thought I would never come back. All those people were saying that. But I didn’t even listen. Because I was more frustrated that I couldn’t be there for my team in the conference finals. That was the most frustrating for me. The rest, for me, in my mind, I was coming back. There was no way I wasn’t coming back.”
Parker helped himself in that endeavor with a regimen he described as “very disciplined,” and included weightlifting sessions from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. “every day,” he said.
“The Spurs, they were great through the whole process,” Parker said. “The first two months, I was in San Antonio. Then the following two months, I was in France. They always sent two people with me the whole time to manage everything. The last month, I’ve been in San Antonio. I just keep working hard and making progress.”
Parker called the latest development in his rehabilitation “great news,” but he cautioned against expecting a quick return to action. In fact, Parker made it clear he won’t be suiting up for the team’s opener on Oct. 18 against the Minnesota Timberwolves as the Spurs, under coach Gregg Popovich, typically take an ultra-conservative approach in bringing players back from injury.
“In my mind, hopefully, I can be back by mid-November, end of November,” Parker said. “But overall, it’s great news. Because at first, the doctors thought it would be the end of January. So it’s still like great news.”
Even with that, Parker can’t help but lament what might have been had he and forward Kawhi Leonard remained healthy last season when the team faced the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.
The Warriors swept the Spurs 4-0 on the way to winning their second title in three seasons.
“Definitely, you have the what-if [thoughts],” Parker said. “But that’s part of the season. Every year we won the championship, you have to have a little luck, be healthy, and playing your best basketball. We all know that. So last year, we just had injuries. Me, Kawhi, and David Lee, we were all hurt. So it was tough. Golden State, they’re already great. So, if you’re not 100 percent, you pretty much have no chance.”