Delfino feels blessed to be back on court
Follows road to recovery to hot March shooting stretch
By Truman Reed
“Things have been tough this season for me because I’ve missed a lot of time, especially being out about 76 days with a concussion. It was a tough injury to come back from. I’m just trying to keep making my way back, hustle and help our team."
Thanksgiving is nearly seven months away, but Carlos Delfino is getting a head start when it comes to expressing his thanks.
And he’s doing it on a regular basis.
A little more than two months ago, the 28-year-old Delfino didn’t know when – or even if – he would be playing basketball again.
He would spend a total of 76 days away from the basketball court and pretty much everything else while recovering from a concussion that stemmed from several blows to the head he took since beginning his sixth National Basketball Association season.
The first blow came October 29 in the Bucks’ second game of the campaign when his head was struck by another player's knee at Minnesota.
The following night, he took an elbow to the ear while battling for a rebound during the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s home opener against Charlotte.
One weekend later, Delfino took a shot to the cheekbone from Indiana’s Danny Granger, and one night after that against New Orleans, he felt dizzy and left the game in the first half.
A concussion was diagnosed and Delfino would spend the majority of the next two and a half months in the dark -- literally – not able to leave a dark room in his apartment and not knowing what his basketball future might hold.
Delfino finally returned to the Milwaukee lineup January 21 and amazingly, two months later, was playing some of the best basketball of his career.
He knocked down eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points March 18 in a 110-95 victory over New Jersey.
He followed that act with a career-high 30 points – including six more treys -- and 11 rebounds March 20 in a 100-95 triumph over New York.
In those two contests, he shot 17 of 26 (.654) from the field and 14 of 22 (.636) from long distance.
Delfino put up another 30 points – with five 3s – against Sacramento on March 23.
Then he totaled 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against Chicago on March 26.
Through 42 games – and 74 games for Milwaukee -- Delfino led the Bucks with 96 makes from 3-point range and led the team in 3-point marksmanship at .379. He also ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game.
During March, he averaged 13.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 steals in 16 games, averaging 33.8 minutes per outing.
And he was smiling again.
“It was tough,” Delfino said. “I feel blessed because I really didn’t have any way of knowing if I’d be able to play again this season. First I just had to get well enough to just get back on the basketball court. You miss the flow of adrenaline that you get from doing what you love to do.
“Once you get back on the court, you find out that you’re overweight and tired and slow. I’ve enjoyed every single minute since I came back, but at the same time, it was tough being on my back for two months before that.
“Now that I’m back and playing again, I want to stay out there and do what I love to do. Most importantly, we’re trying to find ways to win and make the playoffs. You have to put the team first and do everything you can do to help the team. So I really don’t want to think about the season until it’s over. We still have work to do.”
Delfino hasn’t discussed his plight much since his return, largely because he’s simply been too focused on the business at hand to look back.
“I don’t really want to talk too much about the season yet,” he said. “I just want to continue to play.
“Things have been tough this season for me because I’ve missed a lot of time, especially being out about 76 days with a concussion. It was a tough injury to come back from. I’m just trying to keep making my way back, hustle and help our team. I’m still getting my legs back after just laying in bed for those 76 days.”
Delfino did take a few moments to dial his year back to last summer and put into perspective all that has happened to him since then.
“I had a great summer with the (Argentinean) National Team,” he said. “I had some great moments.”
Delfino averaged 20.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the 2010 FIBA World Championships while leading Argentina to a 7-2 record.
He was off to a productive start in his second year with the Bucks, averaging 12.9 points through the team’s first seven games of the season before being detoured.
To go from that to not even playing was tough.
“To tell you the truth, I was so down after the concussion,” he said. “I was just sitting in the dark at home. You have good days and bad days. I thought a lot about the possibilities and the future. Mostly I thought about getting back on the court, getting in shape and playing again. It finally happened.”
His experiences have been beneficial as he now tries to help one of his teammates through a similar ordeal.
“I’ve been talking a lot about that to Ersan (Ilyasova) now, since he had his concussion,” Delfino said. “After it happens, you can do nothing.
“If you hurt your knee or your ankle or your back, at least you can usually do something, like lift some weights or walk your dog. But when you have a concussion, all you can do is lie in the dark. You don’t even want to think too much, because you’re exercising your mind and that can bring on headaches.
“All of that is the most difficult part. Once you’re past that, then you have to start working out and getting back in shape, getting back on the court. But it’s the best thing in the world to be able to do that. I still feel sometimes like I’m a step behind, so I have to keep working hard to get back.”