Baby steps for Jackson as he gets back on court for first time since early October
LOS ANGELES – If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the return of Reggie Jackson began with a few pushups and a couple of jump shots, though perhaps quotes should be placed around “jump.”
“Felt good just to touch the ball. Felt good to be out on the court again,” Jackson said Monday night after being allowed between the lines of the basketball court for the first time since early October. “I haven’t been allowed to touch it for five weeks and even when I snuck on there to get a layup or two, they kicked me off immediately. It’s still not the real thing, so just trying to get geared up towards that and hopefully get back as soon as possible.”
Monday was the four-week mark since Jackson underwent platelet-rich plasma treatment to address tendinosis in his left knee. He also had the procedure done to his damaged right thumb. He’d been shut down in training camp the previous week while getting multiple medical opinions and considering treatment options. The initial diagnosis for his return was six to eight weeks.
Stan Van Gundy will follow the lead of his medical team, led by Pistons director of sports medicine Jon Ishop and trainer Mark Cranston.
“They’re going to tell me. It won’t be me; it’ll be them telling me he’s ready to play,” he said. “When he’s ready to play, we’ll play him. He’s our guy. A lot of times, on these lengthy injuries, you get guys coming back and they’re rusty and it takes a few games. Sometimes your team takes a step back a little bit, but it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to get him out there whenever they tell me he’s ready to go.”
Jackson experienced a previous bout of left knee tendinitis in 2011 after being Oklahoma City’s first-round draft pick. But it came during the NBA lockout and gave him ample time to rehabilitate. Jackson said the issue is no longer pain in the knee, but trusting the health of the joint.
“Imagine if your legs were amputated and then got put back on,” he said. “Trying to go ahead and figure it out. I don’t trust it. I don’t know what I’m capable of. It feels like literally I had a dead leg for five weeks, so I’m trying to find the trust in my leg to just be able to cut. It’s not there yet.”
Without Jackson, the Pistons have gone 4-3 – unbeaten in four home games, winless in three road games. They opened a four-game road trip with a lopsided loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday and play again at Phoenix on Wednesday.
Van Gundy said Ishop has kept him regularly updated on Jackson’s status with the most significant news being that he’s recovering as expected from the PRP injection. A more precise timetable for his return can be expected once Jackson starts experiencing more of what he dabbled at on Monday with his return to the court.
“Within protocol,” Jackson said of his status. “Just trying to feel right and just probably trust – get enough reps and just eventually trusting my body.”