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Hickson pleased with progress in recovery from knee surgery

by Aaron Lopez

As Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson limped off the court on March 21 in Dallas, he refused to believe he had torn the ACL in his right knee.

An MRI soon confirmed the diagnosis and Hickson had surgery four days later.

Two months into his recovery, Hickson is attacking his rehab with the same ferocity he attacks the glass.

“My rehab is going great,” he said. “I’ve got a good spirit about myself right now. I’m in a good place … I don’t think I was ever down. It still hasn’t hit me that I tore my ACL, but I know what I’m dealing with and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Working with Nuggets strength and conditioning coach Steve Hess, assistant athletic trainer Dan Shimensky, assistant strength and conditioning coach Felipe Eichenberger and physical therapist Michael Keirns, Hickson is following a detailed recovery plan.

“I do what they tell me,” Hickson said. “I don’t ask any questions. I trust those guys and I follow their lead.”

Recovery from ACL surgery varies for each individual. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson returned to the field less than 10 months after surgery, while Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose needed 18 months. Hundreds of athletes have fallen somewhere in between.

Citing an unnamed league source, a reporter in Portland recently posted a tweet saying Hickson was eyeing a January return. Hickson bristled at the projection.

“That’s false,” he said. “I’m looking to be ready for training camp. If not, definitely before the season starts.”

Hickson reiterated that he will follow the schedule set out by the athletic training staff. He currently can shoot free throws and he hopes to begin running on an antigravity treadmill within the next few weeks.

“I’m taking my time with it so when I come back, I don’t have to go back,” Hickson said. “Everybody’s body’s different. The guys upstairs recognize that. They do a great job of creating our workouts and doing what’s best for the player.”

After signing with the Nuggets as a free agent last summer, Hickson posted 26 double-doubles and averaged 11.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in 69 games. He set a career-high with 24 rebounds at Golden State on Jan. 15 and then grabbed 25 boards against Portland on Feb. 25.

The performance against Portland took place in the first game after Timofey Mozgov replaced Hickson in the starting lineup.

“My maturity kicked in,” Hickson said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team. We all have to have the same goal. The coaching staff is doing a great job letting us know what they want from us individually and as a team. It’s up to us to go out there and handle business.”

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