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Martin sets record straight on knee injury, contract extension

Nuggets forward doing everything he can to get back on court


Kenyon Martin is not holding out for a new contract.

No amount of money would magically expedite his recovery from offseason knee surgery.

“It is physically impossible right now for me to play basketball,” Martin said Saturday. “If they brought $20 million cash here and put it in my locker, I couldn’t do nothing with it. I would have to give it back because I physically can’t go right now. It’s impossible.”

In an interview with Nuggets.com, Martin felt compelled to set the record straight after a report in the Denver Post implied that he would be playing right now if the Nuggets had given him a contract extension in the offseason.

“(The story) tried to make it seem like I never had surgery,” he said. “That’s what that statement meant to me – like I never had surgery. Like I’m just out here, since I don’t have a contract, I’m just going to sit out until then. That would be a holdout. Totally different. That’s not the case.

“We all know I had a major surgery. We all know it. Right now I can’t play basketball. The day when I’m able to come back, I will. For (the reporter) to put those words in my mouth was wrong, very wrong, and I’m not happy at all. I just want to get the word out. People know me. They know I’ve played hurt time and time again. I’ve played injured time and time again.”

That was the case last April when Martin returned to the Nuggets lineup after missing 18 games with patella tendinitis in his left knee. Instead of having surgery, he went through a painful procedure called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

The process allowed him to return for the final three games of the regular season, and he averaged 10.0 points and 8.3 rebounds while playing all six games of Denver’s first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.

“I didn’t get hurt on my own. I didn’t have to have surgery because I’m a schoolteacher,” Martin said. “I play basketball for a living. I play a contact sport for a living, which is hard on your body. That’s why I had surgery. It’s not like I wanted to go get my knee worked on just for fun and make a fuss of everything. No. What I’m going through is legit. I don’t want to keep going on about it, but I’m going through something serious right now.”

After surgery to repair a torn patella tendon in mid-June, Martin traveled to Miami for a vacation, but he didn’t ignore his rehab schedule. He found a physical therapist and worked out daily for two weeks before returning home to Dallas to continue his recovery.

“When it was time for me to ride the (stationary) bike, I went and bought a bike,” Martin said. “When it was time for me to do the elliptical (machine), I went and bought an elliptical. They told me I could get in the pool. I’ve got a pool at my house. They said I need a swim vest, so I wouldn’t sink. I went and bought a swim vest and fins.”

Though the Nuggets’ season ended on April 30, Martin said he waited about six weeks to have the surgery because he needed to get his “mind around” the idea of another major knee operation. He had microfracture surgery on both knees 18 months apart from May 2005 and November 2006.

“Surgery’s not something that you can wake up in the morning and just go do,” he said. “It was a rough end to the season. I decided to go get surgery when I felt my mind was around it. I went to the best doctor in the business (renown Vail surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman) and I know what I went through before. I’m here to get it right.”

Had he chosen to have season-ending surgery in March, Martin said he still might not have been ready to play by the Oct. 27 regular-season opener. He currently is able to ride a stationary bike, walk on a treadmill, lift weights and shoot free throws.

Nuggets head athletic trainer Jim Gillen termed Martin’s progress as “excellent” but there is no timetable for his return. Martin, 32, and team physicians want to make sure he doesn’t come back too soon and jeopardize his long-term health.

“I’ve been doing everything and beyond to make sure my knee gets right for me to play basketball,” Martin said. “As of Oct. 2, it is physically impossible. There’s no way that I can go out and play one-on-one basketball, let alone five on five in a game … For me to even try would be a major set back to myself and the team.”

Martin, entering the final year of a seven-year contract, didn’t deny telling reporters this week that he’s in “no hurry” to rush back, in part because he was disappointed that the Nuggets did not offer him a contract extension this summer.

“The question was stated as, ‘Since this is the last year of your contract, do you feel the need to rush back?’ That was the question,” Martin said. “And I said, ‘No, I’m not going to rush back. Nobody’s in a hurry to give me a contract, so why would I rush back?’ I said that, but I didn’t say that if I had a contract, I’d be playing right now. I didn’t say that at all.

“This came out of left field. Everybody else wrote what I had to say. I’ve never had a problem saying what I feel and standing by it. I’m like a proud father. If I make a statement, I’m going to stand by it. When I say something, it’s like my child. I’m going to stand by it.”


Contact Aaron J. Lopez at alopez@pepsicenter.com