Rob Williams Returns to Practice After Battling COVID

Robert Williams cleared the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols and returned to practice Tuesday morning, rejoining his Celtics teammates for the first time in 13 days.

The third-year center will also be joining the team on its two-game trip this week to Philadelphia, and he appears to be in line to play Wednesday night after missing the last three games due to COVID-19 protocols.

“I don’t know if there’s another step for him to be able to play, but I would say he’s likely to play,” Brad Stevens stated during a post-practice Zoom call with the media.

Williams said that he was “feeling great” after Tuesday’s practice in Boston, but went on to describe what had been a challenging two-week period for himself and his family.

Unlike teammate Marcus Smart, who was asymptomatic after testing positive for COVID-19 in March, Williams was hit hard by the illness, which caused him to suffer from flu-like symptoms.

“I woke up in sweats,” he described. “One night, I [wasn’t] able to sleep; every five seconds I'm pulling the cover off me and putting it back on me. It was kind of tough.”

Even tougher than the physical symptoms was the mental aspect of having to remain inactive and away from his teammates for so long.

“At first it was just strictly they didn’t want me to do anything,” Williams said. “Nothing really. Just keep drinking fluids, keep trying to eat. And as the days progressed, I got strength back, when I felt like I could move around and do stuff I did a couple of stretches at home, just trying to stay on top of my conditioning, staying strong a little bit.

“But staying away from the team was a difficult time for me, I’m not going to lie. It’s all I know. So it took a toll on me.”

Williams’ teammates did their best to help keep his spirits up. Several of them were going through a similar process, being under the league’s Health and Safety protocols due to contact tracing, so they could all relate to the isolation-driven anxiety.

“Even the players that didn’t test positive, we were all checking in on each other every day within the group text message, just telling people to stay safe, stay healthy, check in on people’s family members,” Williams said. “It’s a lot of team effort put into that which I thank my teammates for checking in on me too, obviously, because it was a tough time.”

Williams added that his mother, daughter, and daughter’s mother also tested positive for COVID, but fortunately, they’re all recovered and doing well.

“I was more worried about them than I was myself,” he said. “They’re over it now. It’s gone. My daughter, she didn't really show any symptoms; still playing around, still running around, you know, but I had to keep an eye on her.”

Now, it’s time for Williams to finally get his eyes back on the game. He’s thrilled to be out of quarantine, excited to return to game action, and “really just happy to be back out here with my guys.”


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