Flynn's Road to Recovery
Flynn's Road to Recovery
The smile disappeared.
For a brief moment in time, Jonny Flynn's famous smile was replaced with a grimace as the Wolves point guard stretched his surgically repaired left hip on a routine trip to Plymouth, Minnesota.
Prior to the stretching exercise, Flynn walked into the Accelerated Sports Therapy and Fitness center to spend time with a familiar face, Wolves physical therapist Andre Deloya. Wearing a white t-shirt, white kicks, and sweat pants, the Niagara Falls, New York native instantly received some grief from the staff for sporting a Yankees hat on this Monday morning session. To his credit, Flynn owns a ton of respect for the Twins but has to support his hometown team despite the playoff battle this year between the two squads.
As soon as the clock struck 10:30 AM, it was time to punch in and work; Deloya placed Flynn on the table for the first portion of the rehab. The second-year point guard finds himself in this position due to a labral tear and an extra bone in his left hip. In fact, the surgery that took place in Vail, Colorado on July 27 was only the second significant procedure in Flynn's life. At the young age of 14, he suffered a scaphoid fracture of the wrist (a break in a small bone on the thumb side) that occurred during a football game. The hip injury is actually common to professional athletes, similar to the surgical experiences of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice.
"When we first all sat down as a collective group and decided to get surgery; I was happy to get surgery," Flynn explained. "Just playing through that all of last year, knowing what I couldn't do, just out there thinking on the court before making moves is toughest thing to do. You ask anybody that plays any sport, when you are not reacting to things, when you are trying to process things in that short time, it kind of takes a little bit away from you."
The unfamiliar territory is uncomfortable for a player with a tremendous amount of durability, considering he suited up for 81 of 82 games as a rookie and everybody can remember the six-overtime marathon game in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament during his sophomore season at Syracuse. Flynn is a relentless and fearless point guard that attacks the rim without a second of hesitation. He is now on a mission to return 100 percent and regain his aggressive approach to the game.
"This is my basketball court now. This is where I will be getting most of my work done. I do work on certain basketball things that I can do right now but for the most part, this is like me coming to practice," Flynn stated.
At 10:50 AM, Deloya continued to stretch Flynn's legs in every direction. The goal is to retrain and strengthen the muscles around his hip while creating an ease of motion for the 21-year old. Flynn winced throughout the first process, admittedly feeling the discomfort but right on schedule for a complete recovery.
"It's tough, you know getting back from an injury is way more work than being healthy and just working out yourself," Flynn said. "Coming off an injury, you have to work twice as hard than the regular times you work, so I think that's been the toughest thing is just all the little things that you've seen that may look like nothing but it takes so much effort, it takes so much time to try and get those muscles back firing."
Attempting to shift the focus off his pain, Flynn chatted about the new NBA 2K11 video game and the potential starting lineup during the Wolves first preseason game against the Lakers in Europe. After joining the team in Mankato for five days of training camp, he did not board the plane overseas with his squad. Regardless of the six-hour time difference, Flynn is the Wolves big supporter.
"Why do you think I was so happy at training camp? As it may look a little unstructured now in the early stages, people still trying to get chemistry with each other, people trying to learn their new surroundings, new defensive principles, new offensive principles. But, I'm looking at a time when we all get it, when everybody is all clicked and on the right path," Flynn stressed.
The Flynn-Deloya relationship is similar to most of the Wolves' players Deloya has assisted to quick comeback stories after major procedures. Inside Deloya's Accelerated Sports Therapy and Fitness center, several famous athletes have donated memorabilia to share gratitude during a difficult rehab process. One of the signed pictures is recognizable to most Wolves fans -- the Corey Brewer poster dunk over Derek Fisher last season. In true Brewer fashion, he wrote, "Thanks for helping me get my hops back."
"See, that's when I know I'm back when I have my jersey on the wall," Flynn proclaimed.
The two have developed chemistry that allows for a fun, yet productive work environment, "We just know each other's moves, it's like you know, Tango partners," Deloya chuckled.
Flynn moved to the next phase of the rehab session at approximately 11:17 AM. The six-foot point guard started functional exercises, categorized as weight-bearing exercises by Deloya. Balancing on one leg, Flynn used the mirror to monitor his form while posing like Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid. This specific workout is essential for Flynn due to the lack of weight training and full sprints he is allowed in his regimented schedule. Flynn then transitioned to a machine called the Reformer, designed by Joseph Pilates where he dealt with resistance and guidance on his hip while sliding right to left laterally. At this point, Flynn can only work on shooting and ball-handling basketball activities.
"We are just trying to find as many creative and different ways to get at the hip," Deloya said. "Different angles, different challenges, different functional relationships, so by the time he gets into sports, his hip has already experienced almost every kind of force and challenge that it can."
Last year, Flynn averaged 13.5 points per game and 4.4 assists, which earned him a spot at the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge on All-Star Weekend. He is mindful of the incredible point guard draft class of 2009, keeping a close eye on his counterparts to help generate motivation.
"I can honestly say everyday, I really think if I'm just sitting here, who else is doing something or if I don't feel like doing something in rehab, is this going to slow me up from getting back on the court? Really, since the surgery, I've been playing a lot of mind games and I think that is what's been helping me along with a lot of other people," Flynn said. "Just keeping yourself in tune with what everybody else is doing. Some people may take that out of context but as a competitor, you don't want anybody to have an up on you, so of course you are going to see what other players are doing and you are going to try to outdo them."
The charismatic floor general believes he will improve along with the high-flyers and newly acquired talent around him in 2010-11.
"You just have to watch and you have to check us out and see what we have to bring because it's definitely going to be a lot more exciting," Flynn promised.
By the end of the arduous rehab session, Flynn's trademark smiled returned. Hard work is ahead for the 2009 No. 6 overall pick but he will be back on the basketball floor soon, delivering big plays and putting smiles on the fans faces.
Check out the extensive photo gallery of Flynn's rehab session here.
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