The motivation to return to the basketball court is alive and well for Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, but during the discouraging moments on the long road to recovery, he looks to a fellow New England athlete for inspiration.
In a moment still cringe worthy to many Celtics fans, Perkins tore his ACL and MCL coming down on his right knee during Game 6 of the NBA Finals last season. Perk underwent surgery on July 15, and has been working toward full strength ever since, determined to win back his starting role on the C's roster.
But as many athletes can attest, the road to recovery following such a serious surgical procedure can be long and arduous, and finding motivation in others who went through a similar struggle is definitely helpful. That's where Patriots receiver Wes Welker comes in.
During another cringe worthy moment fresh on the minds of New England fans, Welker went down with an ACL tear on Jan. 3. Through a recovery one can only describe as bionic, Welker returned to the field in six months, and played in the Patriots' season opener. Now without the brace, Welker looks the same as he did prior to the injury, running the same sharp routes as before.
That incredible feat is fuel for Perkins.
"My motivation was Wes Welker,'' Perkins said in a recent report by ESPN.com."Watching him come back after six months and now he's on the field, without a brace. That's unbelievable. I watch him. But at the same time, you also have to listen to your own body. I feel great. But I still use him as motivation. I come in, put in my rehab and think of him. I do more when they ask me to do more."
Perkins' recovery is receiving rave reviews from team physician, Dr. Brian McKeon. According to the ESPN report, the center is walking without his brace and participates in shooting drills on a regular basis. Simply put, Perkins is looking to emulate Welker's success in hopes to be back on the court in six months.
Dr. McKeon is quick to point out, however, that some knee injuries can take up to 18 months to fully recover.
"He is looking great,'' McKeon said."He's keeping his weight down. He's sticking to the proper diet. But it was a major surgery, and I always tell athletes that it could be 18 months before it's the best that it can be."
Welker is also giving advice to Perk on the recuperation, as the two athletes met recently at a Celtics game. Welker said he wishes Perkins a speedy recovery, but hopes he listens to his body and doesn't rush back to the court.
"He's kind of getting to the stage where he can do some things, move around, but it's one of those deals that you have to stay after it,'' Welker said. "Even the days you don't want to work on it, those are the most important days to make sure you are working on it.
The six-month mark would place Perkins at a mid-January return — a date he's hoping to keep.