Nenad Krstic will be checking in regularly in a diary exclusive to NJNets.com, as he makes his comeback from a torn left ACL suffered in December of last season. He will take you through his return as well as a behind-the-scenes and personal look at his lifeÖ
Itís tough. Not making the playoffs after six years in a row (for the Nets) is tough. I canít say a lot about that. We had a really bad year starting with the trade and itís just tough. But life goes on. Everybody needs to learn from this and just move on.
Itís been a tough year; not just for the team, but especially for me too. Itís tough. I canít really say anything for myself because I really tried to get back; I did everything I could to get back. I was running and swimming in the pool and all that stuff. It was a really hard rehab. Itís like I always have said: people donít understand how tough this injury is. If you donít have this injury you canít really understand it. I can only talk to the guys who have had the ACL injury. They understand. I can talk to Timmy (Walsh, Head Athletic Trainer), he knows a lot about this stuff, but he never got through the rehab. Once you get through the rehab you know what Iím talking about. Itís really tough. People who have had this injury have said it takes about 12-18 months to feel normal. Now Iím about 15 months in. I feel really good. Still, my game is not there; I know I can be a lot better. A lot of people said that after you come back, the first year you are okay, you are good, you are feeling alright. But youíre not there yet. The second year feels normal Ė even better sometimes. There are a lot of examples, not just in the NBA, but in Europe too. A lot of players have come back from this injury and were so much better than they were before the injury. Iím not worrying about my future. I know I can be a lot better and Iím going to be a lot better next year for sure. I canít say this is a good end of the season for me but itís good because I can use this time to get a lot better and this off season because I will have a lot of free time for strengthening and all that stuff.
There were days that you just canít move because you have heavy legs or something like that. And you ask yourself ďwhatís the problemĒ but the next day you feel much better and then you start thinking positively again. I know in the big picture in the future Iím going to be normal again. Iím only 24 years old so itís going to be fine. Itís just going to be fine. Basically, this year is just tough. I had ups-and-downs and itís always hard when you shut it down in the middle of a season and you need to come back. I came back before the all-star break so it was tough to get your rhythm back.
Sometimes I have been myself on the court. I have moments in the game where I feel like Iím myself again and then I go down. Itís so up-and-down. The other thing that is big for me is that my conditioning is not there. I think my conditioning is not great. I always think when you miss the training camp, thatís big. When you need to do your conditioning during the season itís always tough. I think this season when I got the chance to play like 30-35 minutes, I think I did pretty good. When I play 15 minutes, 20 minutes, itís always tough because I have never in my career been that kind of player. I was always a starter, even in Serbia, and here when I came back I was not a starter for 15-20 games. Iím used to playing a lot of minutes.
After the season, I have plans to go to Miami. Itís easy (to go there) because with a Serbian passport you canít really go anywhere. Everywhere you go, you need a Visa. Itís just tough to pick a country because you need a Visa for it. Miami I guess is the easiest way to go somewhere with very nice weather and I like Miami. Iíll stay there for four or five days, I donít know exactly. Then May 2nd Iím going to Serbia and Iíll basically stay over there all summer. My plan is to play for the National Team, starting July 1st. But before that, Iím going to take like two months off. But not off as in nothing to do; Iím going to do strengthening maybe two or three times a week really hard and then maybe two weeks before National Team starts, Iím going to start doing some conditioning and basketball stuff.
I think this summer Iím going to spend a lot of it with my family and friends over there (in Serbia) because I have missed them a lot. It was a really tough year mentally for me so I really need to get away from New Jersey a little bit.
I think National Team is going to help me a lot because: we have a new coach; new players; itís not going to be hard games because itís qualifying for European Championship so itís going to be like six or eight games, something like that; and you train a lot. I think thatís going to help me a lot to prepare for the NBA Season. It will be August and the first days of September. Itís pretty close to training camp but I have like 15-20 days off before training camp starts. So thatís even good to have a couple of days off.
My plans when the season is over are connected to the National Team right now, because I really want to participate in that and really want to do well because I didnít play for two years. I think itís really time to help the National Team because we have really struggled for a couple of years. Iím really going to try to play hard and help them.
I need to be careful with my knee but the thing is: I canít really worry about that. Thatís really the past for me. Iím really getting tired of being asked ďhowís your knee, howís your kneeĒ; my whole life changed because I think I have a tape in my head and I press play and say ďmy knee is fineÖoh my knee is fineĒ and ďHowís your knee...my knee is fine.Ē I always repeat the same thing and Iím getting tired of hearing that and I just want to forget that. In life, you always forget the bad things and remember the good things.
Posted March 25th, 2008
By Nenad Krstic
On Season-High 22 Points vs. Knicks on 3/24 and Putting Knee Injury Behind Him...
Itís not about yesterdayís game. Itís about the whole season. Iím trying to put that behind me and just focus on the court and try to get better. Everybodyís talking about my ACL and how I am struggling (and still equating the two). But that was 1 Ĺ years ago; thatís the thing that is bothering me: I am healthy now. I am 100 percent. Iím totally healthy and the only thing that Iím maybe not 100 percent with is my wind. Itís not there 100 percent. But with my knee: everythingís fine, everythingís great. I donít want to talk about that. I just want to forget about that. It was really like a bad dream for me for like one year or more. And right now a lot of people are trying to put that as an excuse. ĎACL, ACLí and Iím getting tired of that, listening to that. Itís not about yesterdayís game. Iíve felt good for about a month and a half. I didnít play good before that but it was because I wasnít used to people running at me and my shot. I wasnít used to people being around me because I did the whole rehab by myself. So, thatís the thing with this injury. You do the whole rehab just by yourself and then when you get ready to play, thatís maybe the toughest part. To get adjusted for the game, to get the feeling back about other players being around you. It takes a while. For some people, itís a little less. For some people, itís more. For me it took like almost six months.
I practice those (jump) shots every day. Even today I practiced them. I just stay focused and believe that the shots are going to fall in and Iím so lucky to have very unselfish teammates and coach ran plays for me in the third quarter. I was really enjoying playing basketball again. It was really fun to play with unselfish guys who are going to pass you the ball when youíre open. When you make shots, you create more plays for other guys so it was really great and fun to play.
Time to Step Up?
I think I started feeling really good on the Southwest trip; I started playing good. But we lost every single game. Not just me, but everybody needs to step up but I feel like I havenít done too much the whole season. I just need to step up right now and do whatever I can. But there are going to be the nights where Iím not going to make the shots and I just need to believe in myself like I did before (the injury). Thatís pretty much it. We just need to stay focused, not think about the other teams.
Iíve been trying to stay off my feet because every game right now is a big game for us, like playoff games. Iím just trying to rest. I got sick last week so I was really frustrated about that. That was another setback for me. I was really sick with a high fever; I was shaking in bed for like three days. Iím still coughing, Iím still not right yet, but itís better. It was really bad. I was sick for like five days and missed three games. I didnít feel good about that especially as I had just gotten a rhythm back and everything. But I came back and I feel good again.
Maybe it was some medicine I took or something. I just started making shots and itís really feeling good right now.
Posted March 4th, 2008
By Nenad Krstic
Where I Am
Itís still tough for me. Iím still trying to get my rhythm back and the rhythm of the game. I think Iím doing pretty well in practice, getting used to it; it just takes some time. Itís not easy. I was thinking it was going to be easy when I was getting ready for playing time. But itís not like that. It takes some time. Iím still getting used to playing time and having people around me (on the court). Rehab for me was something that was really hard but it was totally different than playing time. In playing time, you have people around defending you and thatís the thing right now that Iím getting used to. Iím just still not there yet. Iím really trying hard to help the team and play better. But like I said, itís not really easy; I just need some more time. We still have 20-plus games left and hopefully the playoffs. Iím just looking forward to the future. Just thinking about the next game and what I should do to get better and Iím using every single practice to get in better shape. The bottom line: I need to be satisfied; I need to be happy because Iím on the court again and playing and that was my goal at first. Just to play againÖRight now, my goal is to do better and better.
Physical things are fine. My knee is feeling great. My strength is great.
But the other thing is that in the past Ė before the injury Ė if I had a bad game, Iíd come in the gym (afterwards) and shoot like 500 shots and feel much better. I canít do that right now because I canít put too much stress on my knee. So, Iím just trying to use practice to get better. I canít really do too much individual stuff so thatís the thing bothering me right now.
If you look at me at practice and before practice, when I shoot by myself, thatís my shot. Thatís my old shot, but in a game when people are running at you and putting their hand in your face, itís different and you need to get used to it. For some people, they need less time; for some people, they need more time. Every injury of mine, even in Serbia, if they said I needed four weeks to recover I always took like five or six weeks. I always needed more time to recover or get in shape. Thatís how I am. Itís really like I need more time.
What can I say about Jason (Kidd)? When I first came here, it was real difficult for me and when I started playing it was a totally different game. First, what I learned is that you always look at Jason Ė heís always going to pass you the ball at the right time and in the right position. He really helped me a lot. He makes everybody better on the floor. He really helped my career, and not just me, but everyone from the Nets. When I heard about the trade for the first time, I was really sad about him leaving but the other thing is that we got the young player, Devin Harris, who is really good. We also got Diop, Hassell, Ager.
Devin had a great debut the other night. Heís a great player who is really quick with the ball. He is a different player than Jason, thatís for sure, but he has his own strengths. He is really fast and has shown some shooting skills. Heís going to be good for us and heís young. Thatís good for rebuilding the team.
I have a girlfriend. Iíve had a girlfriend for five years and sheís really great. Thatís the first time Iíve heard about that. I never heard about that and Iím really surprised. I think itís not really true. I need to look on the internet and make sure. What can I say? I have a girlfriend; Iím not married but Iím living with my girlfriend. I donít know if thatís true. Iím going to ask Ian Eagle about that; maybe he just made up that story.
On Kosovo Declaring Independence from My Native Serbia
Thatís the biggest thing right now in Serbia. Not just in Serbia, but in Europe too. Iím really sad about what happened February 17th when they said Kosovo is independent. When I started going to school at six years old, they always taught us Kosovo is the place when Serbian history begins. Every Serbian has relatives in Kosovo. For like nine centuries, Kosovoís been part of Serbia and now because of politics and everything, itís notÖWe have 10 percent of Serbian people over there. Jerusalem for Israel is like Kosovo for Serbia. Itís really a big religion thing. Serbian people are really proud. Itís like if they took away your pride. Itís been a bad thing and thereís going to be more bad things happening because that 10 percent of Serbian people are not moving from Kosovo and they want them to move.
Donít take away from us our history, our pride. Thatís really our pride. For me, Kosovo has always been and will always be Serbia. What ever happens, I always think Kosovo is going to be Serbia.
Iím going to make an example. Serbia has a longer history than America but it would be like if you took Florida away from America. Itís like if they took Florida away from the U.S.; itís not right. We just need to be peaceful. I donít know whatís going to happen. Iím against the war. The other thing is that I was really mad about the burning of the U.S. Embassy and the other Embassies. Thatís not the right thing to do. It sends a bad picture to the whole world.
Posted February 14th, 2008
By Nenad Krstic
Back in the Starting Lineup
For me, the most important thing right now is that my knee is feeling great. Getting back into the starting lineup is good for me mentally and physically too, because Iím really trying to get loose before the game so when you start the game, youíre more loose than if you sit on the bench for 10-15 minutes and then come in and play. Iím feeling good right now. In the beginning of the year - when I played 12 games - I was tired after the games. Now Iím not tired at all. Iím really feeling good, my kneeís in great shape, and Iím just trying to get rhythm back and get in basketball shape. Still, with two months of work on my conditioning, you canít really simulate the game and doing conditioning stuff on the court. So, itís different and Iím just trying to get my conditioning back. Itís going to take some time but I think Iím going in the right direction right now.
Plans for the All-Star Break
Iím going to Miami for three days. Itís going to be nice. Itís good to have a couple of days off. Even though I didnít play for more than two months, I was working everyday so I canít remember the last time I had rest for three days. Itís going to be good, especially with the way the weather has been around here.
Iím going with my girlfriend and itís going to be fun. Itís good to have a couple of days off just to mentally prepare for the final 29 games after the all-star break. But Iím not just going to lie down on the beach. Iím going to maybe take a day off and then use the weight room or something just to keep my legs strong. I need to do it every single day if I can.
I look to enjoy the weather. I hope itís going to be nice weather. I have friends there too who are from Serbia so Iím going to spend some time with them hanging out a little bit. I like Miami. Itís my favorite NBA city. Itís always a lot of fun to be there and it reminds me of back home. Usually I go back home in the summer time so itís really similar because there are a lot of restaurants outside. You can sit and eat outside. Itís a little similar to back home.
This is the first time that Iím going somewhere for the all-star break because one year I played for the sophomore all-star team, the year before that I was so sick I couldnít get up and out of bed, and last year obviously I was hurt and I was doing my rehab so I couldnít go anywhere. This is my first real vacation during a season.
Sean Williams is doing great
I remember my first year; itís always tough especially this time of year. They say itís a ďrookie wallĒ or something but heís doing great. Heís really playing great and he brings energy and he really helps the team a lot. Especially, like I said, with the energy, with rebounds, running the floor, defense, and blocking shots. He still has a lot of stuff to learn but heís a really good athlete and I think heís going to have a great future here in this league if he continues to work.
The all-star game is not like the biggest thing back home (in Serbia), but people watch. I used to watch when the guys from Serbia would play, like Peja (Stojakovic) and Vlade (Divac), but that was like five or six years ago. I remember when Peja won the three-point contest two or three times in a row. That was really big in Serbia Ė everybody watched that. Now itís a little bit less but if somebody comes up and plays from Serbia in the all-star break, itís going to be big again but right now nobody from there is playing, soÖ
Tennis & Serbia
The girl tennis players from my country have beaten Serena (Williams) and Venus (Williams). So thatís like 2-0 for Serbia against America. Novak Djokovic is a guy and the two girls are Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Djokovic is like number three in the world, Ivanovic is number two, and Jankovic is number three so itís like the most popular sport right now in Serbia. Two years ago, it used to be basketball but not anymore. But Iím glad. We are really proud. If youíre Serbian these days, youíre really proud because you have really good tennis players. Serbia is a really small country Ė like seven or eight million people Ė that is really good in sports. We are good in basketball, soccer, volleyball, handball, European sportsÖand water polo, we had like Olympic wins five or six years ago.
Iím not really a reader. Iím not really into reading the papers, or the internet. Sometimes I catch up but this is reallyÖI donít know. This is my first blog. He needs to encourage me. I donít know what to say. I donít have experience with this. I need to check my web stats for the page.
Posted February 8th, 2008
By Nenad Krstic
Ready to Play
Iím mentally ready for basketball. Itís been a long time and now Iím on the court again. It was really tough to come back again especially because I played the first 10 games of the season. But Iím back and I understand itís the middle of the season and everybody has their own roles and everything and Iím just trying to get in basketball shape and trying to get my rhythm back in a game and everything. I understand itís really difficult but mentally Iím fine and my kneeís feeling great right now. Thereís no swelling; I was working with (Physical Therapist) Matt Gibble and he did a great job with me and everybody else like Timmy (Walsh, Nets Head Trainer) and all the coaches. (Coachís Assistant) Jimmy Sann was working with me almost everyday. Everybody was trying to help me and I really appreciated that and for me right now just to be back on the team and be healthy is a great success.
I never had one year out in my career. It was really tough, especially the first couple of months and especially since I was looking forward to having a really good season Ė a breakout year Ė and I wanted to be back. The other day we actually played against the Lakers so that was the first time after I got hurt against them last season. Itís weird. In my life, Iím always going to remember that moment when I got hurt and it was really terrible but right now Iím back. There were so many tough situations in the past year. So many times I was frustrated with everything but right now Iím really happy. It was a really tough rehab that I went through. Like I said, though, thatís past. This is the present time now so itís really just looking forward to play again.
For the first couple of months after the surgery for me just to get out of the house and go to treatment was big because I couldnít walk too much. If I walked too much my knee swelled up so I was just trying to stay off my feet. That was pretty much it. I was watching movies, playing video games, nothing special. Then when I started working out more and running it started to get better. I went home during the summer, which was really nice and spent time with my family and then came back here.
Watching the Sopranos
Away from the court, my girlfriend is here with me in New Jersey so I try to spend a lot of time with her. On the road, I like watching the Sopranos. I recently started it. I also like to go to dinner or do something like that. Itís the same thing here at home. I like to go to restaurants in New York a lot, in Manhattan. Thatís pretty much it. I try to rest because I practice a lot and work out a lot and now Iím starting to play so I need to take care of my body, especially my knee.
When I was doing rehab and all the different stuff, I was doing the pool and the weight room. The weight room really helped me because you lift weights and you feel better. Youíre tired and you can go home and sleep for 1 to 2 hours and you feel better. I had a lot of free time last season. I went into New York. I really like to try to get to know Manhattan and get to know the restaurants. Thatís pretty much it. I go with my girlfriend to the mall, stuff like that.
Been on the Road a lot Lately
The West Coast is always tough on me; thereís a lot of travel, especially the last trip. We changed a couple of time zones. We went to LA and Phoenix, then to Denver and Minnesota. One is like 60 degrees, 70 degrees and one is like zero degrees. For me thatís really tough. There was three hours difference between New Jersey and there. Itís always difficult especially when youíre playing. For me thatís the toughest thing to do in the NBA. Sometimes you play back to back games and itís really hard to prepare for the games and stay really focused and play well.
When I was playing, I would get recognized. Right now, nobody knows me. Iím just a tall guy.
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