Having missed 49 of the Wizards' 50 games this season, center Ian Mahinmi has had a lot of time to think over the last few months. He was the team's biggest acquisition in free agency, joining Washington on a four-year, $64 million deal, but so far he has been sidelined for all but 14 minutes of regular season action due to numerous knee problems.
It all began with a partially torn left meniscus in a preseason game against the Sixers, which required surgery on Oct. 15. He then returned against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 26, only to go back down with right knee tendinitis. A visit with Dr. James Andrews later and he was sidelined again for months after undergoing platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment on both knees.
Now, after practicing with the Wizards for the first time on Friday, Mahinmi is almost back.
"This is definitely the closest I have been in a minute. It's really good. I'm just happy to be back," he said.
Mahinmi, 30, admits that it has been a difficult road back.
"It has been very tough, especially for a guy like me that rarely gets hurt like that. Last time I hurt myself like that was my rookie year when I was with the Spurs. That was 10 years ago. Me being out for an extended period of time like that is very challenging. I really had to take a step back and work. Be focused on my work one day at a time. Stay positive. Be there for my teammates for whatever they needed. Stay engaged and just be patient. It has been tough," he explained.
Mahinmi had never done PRP treatment before, but says "it went great." He feels very close to 100 percent and could return sometime this coming week, before the All-Star break.
When Mahinmi gets back, he will return to a Wizards team that has reached 10 games over .500 at 30-20, won seven straight games and 17 straight at home. They hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference and continue to rise by the week.
This is all after they started 2-8 and were left for dead by many in the media. Mahinmi has been on the sidelines watching it all, but now he's ready to play his part.
"It's been great. It's been great because we talked about it at the beginning of the year. We put all the stress on us, the team. We said that we can make this year great, we can also make this year one of the better years. It was on us from the start. Guys took on the challenge. It's been great watching the guys bounce back after such a rough start. It gives me that much [motivation] to get back and be part of this story. This chapter that has been opened this year, with all the ups and downs, I really want to be a part of that. I can't wait to get back on the court and be back in the mix," he said.