Collins Talks Shoulder Surgery, Rehab And His Goal Of Playing Again This Season

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers power forward/center Zach Collins underwent surgery last week to repair the labrum in his left shoulder after suffering a dislocation in the third game of the season. On Monday before the team left for a one-game trip to Sacramento, Collins talked about the diagnosis, the four-month timeline for re-evaluation, getting advice from former teammates and his hope of playing against this season.  

How did you feel after finding out you'd have to undergo surgery to repair your left shoulder?

Zach Collins: I think the toughest part for me was between when I dislocated it, got the x-ray, then I was waiting for the MRI. After we got the MRI results it was like, okay, what are we going to do? Are we going to do surgery? Are we gonna try to rehab it? Just that limbo, not knowing what the next move was, was pretty tough. Just not knowing what to do kind of messes with you a little bit. But when I found out I had to get the surgery, I was frustrated, I was sad, I was angry, all those things because I just want to play.

It's a big year for me. (The media) has talked about it, me and the coaches have talked about it, my family, like, this is going to be the year where I really came out and showed what I can do and be a starter in this league. That all kind of got taken away from me. So it was frustrating, but once I found out it was surgery, I was like 'Alright, let's attack it, let's get it done and let's move on.' I'm good now.

How does your shoulder feel so far? Can you even tell at this point?

Zach Collins: I haven't really done any range of motion or anything. The first few days is kind of letting it heal up. The pain has been okay. It flares up at night when I'm trying to sleep, unfortunately, but during the day, it's not too bad. Surgery was Tuesday, so I've just been trying to chill out, let everything kind of heal, do everything they tell me to do. But we haven't really started anything crazy other than when I take my arm out of the sling I can go up and down a little bit. That's about it.

Are you supposed to keep it in the sling for the most part?

Zach Collins: Yeah, sling as much as possible. Obviously some times I take it out and move it around a little bit so my elbow doesn't get too stiff. Doc is all cool with that.

Have the doctors and trainers given you a sense of what the rehabilitation will look like. Can you explain at all how that might progress?

Zach Collins: I think in like a week from now I'll be able to do range of motion stuff and they'll be able to help me move my arm up and down a little bit, just slowly work on getting back into it. But these first two weeks they said to kind of chill out, let it do its thing.

The team announced that you'd be re-evaluated in four months. Do you know what it's supposed to feel like in, say, in a month? Two months? What you'll be allowed to do as the rehab progresses?

Zach Collins: I think for those four months, I'll be doing rehab, strengthening it, probably on the court just a little bit too, just seeing how I feel and then being re-evaluated. I could be all wrong, I'm just assuming in that four month time that I'll be able to do a lot of stuff to where now we can see how much closer he is to getting back. For two weeks, it's nothing, then after that we can slowly start doing more (stuff).

Is it your hope that you'll be able to play again this season?

Zach Collins: Yeah, for sure, it's very realistic. If you look at it, March is four months, that's very realistic. They've said guys come back in four months. I can't promise anything obviously, you never know how it's going to be, but that's my goal, for sure. It depends on a lot of things, I just know that rehabbing this here with the team, not being somewhere else doing it is going to help a lot. Having the doctors, everybody here on the same page, I think it's just going to make it go a lot quicker.

I know you're close with Meyers Leonard and he had a similar injury. Have you spoken to him at all about it?

Zach Collins: I texted him, kind of got his perspective a little bit. Even before this, I hadn't really know what he went through. He kind of gave me the run down of what he did and it just popped out so many times. His was different from mine -- I have the text, I can't remember now how it was different -- but it was a little different from mine. He gave me some advice, just said do what's best for me, what's going to be best for me in the long run as far as my career. He was great, very open about what he went through. He didn't really push me any type of way, he just kind of gave his own perspective on how he dealt with it. I also texted Ed (Davis), he kind of went through the same thing, too, and he was open with me about how he handled it. That all kind of helped me throughout the process.

What have you thought about what you've seen from the team since you've been out? Defense has been somewhat of an issue, so I imagine it's hard not to think about being back out there.

Zach Collins: Yeah, you always think that, you always want to be out there helping your guys and it's tough to see them out there struggling a little bit. I think there's a couple ways you can look at it. You can look at it and panic and be like 'Dang, we need to get better' or you can look at it like 'It's early in the season and going through this now is going to make us so much better.' We're going through a point where we're not shooting the ball consistently well, maybe we're not getting as good off a whistle as we're going to get later in the season. And again, we're a new team. I think just guys that are on the floor, guys that are injured right now, just seeing this and going through this together, it's going to make us a lot more mentally strong when we've got to put it all together for playoffs. I think it's going to be big for us.

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