Polish Machine Hopes to be Back Online Soon

Marcin Gortat #4 of the Phoenix Suns drives for a shot against the Toronto Raptors on March 6, 2013 at U.S. Airways Center.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
Posted: April 5, 2013

Don’t call it a comeback. Well, at least not yet.

For the first time since spraining his lisfranc ligament in his right foot against the Toronto Raptors a month ago, Marcin Gortat traded in his Herman Munster-esque footwear for something a little more familiar. Thursday was the first time he put on his sneakers and took to the practice court at US Airways Center.

“It feels really weird,” the Polish center said of being out of the walking boot and off crutches for the first time. “It’s going to be a long process. I have to learn to walk. I’m limping on my one leg. Basically I don’t have muscle in my one leg now, so I have to rebuild it. I was doing some work walking on the treadmill, lots of corrective exercises and got a few shots up.”

Just how long will it take for the Polish Machine to be back online? If he has his way, it might be sooner than you think.

“I’d like to definitely step on the court one more time and say goodbye to the fans,” Gortat said. “The perfect location may be Houston game at home [on April 15]. Step on the court, take one last jump shot and leave. That would probably be great thing for me. We’ll see.”

The question is, why risk coming back just six weeks after an injury to play when your team isn’t in the playoff hunt? Gortat feels it’s both for personal reasons and as a way to show his appreciation for the fans who have continually supported him since he arrived in Phoenix via a trade from Orlando in December 2010.

“I want to finish the season mentally safe,” he said of the people who have questioned his plan. “If one day I want to go play pick-up games, I know I can go play 100 percent because I’m healthy. If I’m going to finish the season not playing basketball, not showing up on the court, I’d have my doubts.”

One thing that isn’t in doubt, though, is Gortat’s love for the game. Since his injury, he’s been consistently at US Airways Center. Not only did he spend his time with trainers to rehab, but he also spent many games at the building even though he couldn’t sit behind the bench due to his abnormally large crutches and walking boot.

Friday night will mark the first time he sits with his teammates since the injury. That coupled with the fact that it is Polish Heritage Night at the arena, is going a long way to lifting Gortat’s spirits.

“I feel good,” he said with a smile. “I’m really optimistic about the next few days.”

If all goes to his plan, he’ll be joining his teammates back on the floor soon. Then, you can officially call it a comeback.