Webster's Road To Recovery
Webster Taking A Relentless Approach
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Each day after Timberwolves practice, Martell Webster is easy to find.
As the Wolves begin their independent shooting routines and one by one leave the court, Webster takes advantage of the extra floor space. Running. Driving. Shooting. Emulating basketball moves and, with each passing day, working toward the point where he can spend the entire practice participating with his teammates.
The Wolves guard/forward, who underwent back surgery in September, is on a mission.
“It’s like elementary school, man. You’re getting held back from recess,” Webster said. “That’s what it’s like for me.”
So Webster continues to push his body in rehabilitation, stretching to regain his range of motion, contrasting ice with hot tub sessions and doing his own shooting workouts with Player Development Coaches David Adelman and Shawn Respert. On team practice days, Webster works. On team off days, Webster works.
After two back surgeries in the past two seasons, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft has had enough time watching from the sideline. He’s ready to play.
“It’s all fun for me, playing basketball, playing this game,” he said. “That’s always been fun for me. That’s what keeps me motivated.”
It’s been a work in process.
Webster said he began feeling similar pains in August that led to his first back surgery in 2010. Feeling pain from his sciatic nerve running down his left leg, he was evaluated and realized he had a reoccurrence. He underwent microdiscectomy surgery on Sept. 28.
Since then, he has continuously worked on his recovery. Between rigorous strength training exercises and a slow but steady return to basketball motions, Webster is now to a point where he feels his body is nearly prepared to return. Now, it’s a matter of building his conditioning.
During Wednesday’s workout, Webster completed shooting drills that forced him to drive, pull up, cut and work off screens. He didn’t miss a beat.
David Adelman, who has worked with Webster for the past three weeks and put him through tedious shooting and movement drills, said he can see the difference.
“He’s lower, more athletic,” David Adelman said. “He just looks more athletic. I would imagine that would be the hardest thing, getting all your body motion going at once, and it’s starting to come back.”
Wolves coach Rick Adelman said earlier this season Webster will be an important piece of this roster because of his defensive ability—a continued focus for the Timberwolves’ roster—as well as his scoring prowess. Webster is a career 37.7 percent 3-point shooter.
Webster said he’s spent his time on the sidelines this year to his advantage. Watching closely during each game, he’s prepared for his return by envisioning he’s involved in every offensive play and every defensive stop.
“You’ve got to keep your eyes on the game and be into the game as if every play that was out there being called was for you,” he said. “Kind of going through the rhythm and timing in your head, and then once you get back you’re not playing that much of a catch up game. I’m taking advantage of that.”
Webster’s estimated return is still in question, but as far as he’s concerned his body is nearly ready. Now, it’s a matter of endurance.
There’s no questioning whether or not he’s put himself in position for a speedy comeback.
“It’s on the players; once they get freed to do active things, they’ve got to want to do them,” David Adelman said. “Martell’s work ethic has been great.”
It’s a life lesson he learned early.
“One thing my grandma told me, and my mom, was that if you’re not in there putting the work in, there’s somebody else out there that is,” Webster said. “You might as well. If you don’t have anything to do, go in there and get better. Why not? Even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Make that 30 minutes count.”
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