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Bucks' assistant coach motivates Jabari Parker through rehab

From NBA media reports

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Finishing off a 3-1 road trip with a dominant performance over the Portland Trail Blazers was good news for the Milwaukee Bucks. Getting 71 points from the team’s current Big Three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe made for a happy team and fan base, too.

But a pregame Tweet from the Moda Center Thursday by former Bucks star-turned-broadcast analyst Marques Johnson, showing injured Jabari Parker dunking the basketball in workout routine, boosted the positivity to another level.

And so did the story of Parker’s new partner/pusher in his ACL surgery rehab – assistant coach Frank Johnson is the latest Milwaukee staffer to devote long hours to the talented forward’s care and recovery. Matt Velazquez wrote about that for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker didn’t know Frank Johnson when the team hired him as an assistant coach in August. As a student of the game, Parker knew of Johnson, having seen clips of Johnson from the latter stages of his NBA playing days in the early 1990s.

But the two didn’t know each other.

Fast forward a few months and the two are obviously close. Johnson has essentially been assigned to Parker, sticking with and pushing the 22-year-old as he works toward returning from tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for the second time in three years.

“Frank is an extreme, extreme blessing in my life,” Parker said. “He’s a person that I need, a person that stays with me and sticks with me. It gets lonely at times, but he’s always supporting and he makes sure that I get better.”

Johnson recognizes the lonely feeling that can set in when rehabbing from an injury because he’s felt it before. During a two-year stretch of his career, Johnson broke his foot four times

“(Parker) was like, ‘Oh, OK. So now you know what it’s like; it’s lonely,’” Johnson said. “He knows how lonely it is for him at times. I know that.”

Everyone, injured or not, has their good and bad days. Parker is not immune to pain building up, feeling bored by monotonous rehab exercises or the loneliness of being separated from the team either literally or symbolically.

That’s when Johnson’s impact is most needed.

“I have bad days; a lot of times I’m not as strong as it seems to be,” Parker said. “I have struggles, but Coach Johnson makes sure that my well-being is fine and he’s always uplifting me on my bad days.”

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