There’s a lot Tim Hardaway Jr. doesn’t know about the stress injury that sidelined him indefinitely — like how it happened, whether there’s a fracture and, most importantly, when he can play basketball again.
What Hardaway Jr. does understand is that he’s dealing with something “serious,” and he’s hoping for positive news following a re-evaluation early next week.
“I’ve played with sprained ankles before, bruises, stuff like that. That doesn’t mean anything to me. But this is serious,” Hardaway Jr. said Thursday in his first comments since the diagnosis. “Mentally, I just want to be prepared to go out there and be able to go 110 percent (before I come back).”
Hardaway has missed seven straight games — including Thursday against the Nets — and has graduated in that time to walking without a boot and shooting stationary. Running and jumping will require a positive re-evaluation.
“I’m not giving myself a deadline because I don’t want to get to that point and then be upset or get down on myself,” he said. “So I don’t want to give myself a deadline or a set date of when I should return.”
The 25-year-old, who signed a $ 71-million contract in the summer, said the stress injury had nothing to do with previous ailments to his foot because, “I don’t believe in (one injury coming from overcompensating for another).”
“It’s not me leaning on one side to take the pain off the ankle or doing this to do that. No, I don’t believe in any of that stuff. This is a separate injury,” he said.
The origin, he said, is a mystery.
“There’s no idea how it happened. It just, it felt like a bruise one day and started to hurt a little bit more and just got it evaluated and it came out to be what it is now.”
Asked whether the doctors ruled out a stress fracture, Hardaway Jr. was evasively vague.
“All I know is a stress injury. That’s all I’ve been told. Stress injury. I don’t know about no stress fracture,” he said. “They just said it’s a stress injury and that’s what I see on the pictures and stuff they give me so I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Hardaway Jr. dealt with a sore foot, sore ankle and sore calf. He played through the pain until being diagnosed with the stress injury. In the shooting guard’s absence, the Knicks were 3-3 heading into Thursday with Courtney Lee and Michael Beasley assuming a greater offensive load.
Hardaway Jr. impressed in his 21 games before the injury, averaging career highs in points (17.8), minutes (34.1), rebounds (4.2) and assists (3.3).
But a lot of where he’ll spend the remainder of his campaign will depend on the results of his next test.
“This is my first time ever having something like this. I don’t break bones or anything. This is the first time,” he said. “The last time something happened was in my right ankle in college and I only sat out for two days and that’s it. So this is all new to me as well.”
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