Al Horford Talks For First Time Since Injury

Friday, March 14, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Al Horford spoke to the media for the first time since tearing his right pectoral on Dec. 26 in Cleveland. Horford was in very good spirits and spoke openly about the challenges ahead of him in rehabbing his injury, but also spoke with optimism about the future of his game and the Hawks as a team.

Horford took us through the initial reaction to the injury and whether — because he has had two torn pectorals — the doctors had told him he was more susceptible to the injury than most people.

“[The doctor] was as surprised as I was with the injury. Dr. Duralde, he’s great. I mean, my left side feels great, which was the first injury. We just sat there looking like, ‘really?!’ We couldn’t believe it. One of the things we looked at, he said when we had the procedure he noticed there was some scar tissue — some old stuff — we didn’t really know how long it had been there. It could’ve been years…It was just unfortunate. He said it could’ve been one of those things where I could’ve played the rest of my career and it would’ve been fine, but under the right circumstance it could’ve happened — and it happened.”

Horford is two months removed from the surgery and says that he is still in the early stages of his rehab, but having gone through the same injury with his left pectoral two years ago, he’s got a better idea of how to rehab and what all it will take to be back on the court.

“[I’m working out on the] elliptical and stationary bike. I’m starting to do leg workouts and abs, but nothing with the upper body. Just my rehab routine working on strengthening my shoulder and my back a lot…Yeah, I think I am more confident because it’s an identical injury. It’s the third one that’s happened in basketball and I’ve had two of them. I know what it takes. I know what I have to do, and I take care of my body as best as I can. Not only with the rehab and things, but eating the right way and trying to stay on top of it. So, I’m confident…For me, this is a setback and a challenge, but I welcome it. It’s something that I’ve experienced before and I can do it. I know I can, and I’m working.”

With the injury being to his right pectoral, Horford does expect the rehab to take a little longer before he’s comfortable getting out on the court because it is to his dominant hand.

“No, I think it would be hard, honestly [to return for the playoffs]. It’s a little more severe than my other one, and it’s my right side — my shooting arm. So, I want to be 100% confident in it, so I think it’s going to be a little slower.”

While the injury presents a considerable challenge to Horford, he’s not only confident that he can return to play at a high level, but feels that it will force him to improve his game, particularly in forcing him to work on his left hand.

“I think so. I think this is going to make me better. I was joking with Coach Darvin Ham when I first did it. He said ‘when they clear you you’ll have to start working on your left.’ I’ve always neglected and hated using the left hand as much as I can, just to dribble, never to shoot around the rim and stuff. So, I think this will really challenge me to work on that and it’s a big challenge, but I’m up for it.”

Seeing how positive and optimistic Horford is about his future despite the injury, and how he looks at it as a challenge and opportunity to get better speaks volumes to his character and determination. Already an All-Star twice — and he was playing at an All-Star level prior to the injury this season — Horford continues to look for ways to improve. Further developing his game around the rim by adding a left-handed option to his post repertoire would make him an even more dynamic offensive threat, and this injury might be the impetus to add that skill.

Two months removed from the injury, Horford appears to have taken the best approach possible. Rather than being devastated by another lost season, he’s looking at it as a chance to keep improving. The Hawks will have to make it through this season without the Boss, but come next fall they can expect to have a rejuvenated — and possibly improved — Al Horford back on the court.

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