No true timetable exists for Nene's return from plantar fasciitis in his left foot, though he returned to practice on Thursday and Friday. For now on game nights, the injured All-Star caliber power forward endures one Wizards loss after another as a sideline observer, the injury having turned him into a very expensive cheerleader - and as it turns out, history teacher.
"Definitely is not easy, but we just need to continue to work and the sunshine will come," the Brazilian big man said about living through the 0-8 start to the season, which matched the franchise record set last campaign. Nene missed out on that winless stretch, not acquired from Denver until midway the lockout-shortened season, but he's witnessed his share of poor starts during his 10 NBA seasons.
With so much of the season remaining, Nene remains positive. That's simply his nature. Also, the veteran recalls another team that turned early season frowns upside down with a run to the postseason. Long-time Wizards' fans should as well.
"Nobody succeed without adversity. We have adversity right now and they put on the board, 2004-05 Chicago. They start 0-9 and they won like 47 games. That could be the same," Nene said.
That Scott Skiles-coached Bulls squad, led by Eddy Curry, Kirk Hinrich, and Ben Gordon did indeed win 47 games and reach the playoffs. That's where they faced the Gilbert Arenas-Antawn Jamison-Larry Hughes Wizards in the first round. Chicago jumped out to a 2-0 series lead before Washington won four straight for what turned out to be the franchise's last playoff series win.
Perhaps when Nene and John Wall (knee) return, the Wizards will experience a similar turnaround. Actually, the Wizards previously experienced resurgence when Nene joined the team last season, though he's not feeling any extra pressure or viewing himself as a potential savior.
"Pressure? Everybody have pressure," Nene said on Sunday following practice as the team prepares to host Indiana on Monday. "It’s not, me and John’s out, when we back we’re going to be the miracle. We’re going to be two more helps on the court."
Nene's own projection has him out another two weeks at least. He's taking his rehabilitation "Step by step. Right now, my body is sore, my foot hurt a little bit. I try to be positive and try to control what I can do."
As for the team's future, Nene said, "I believe we’re going to flip all this negative stuff. And we understand. The fans have been great here, they have been supportive. People on the outside, they are taking bad when we are losing. When we win, they are going to clap hands. That’s how it’s going to be and they will.
If the 2004-05 Chicago Bulls model is to be copied, these Wizards, the only winless team in the NBA, will endure another loss before notching victory number one. Success will remain sporadic until mid-December when a seven-game winning streak occurs with a nine-gamer to follow later in the season. Sounds divine, right? Well, apparently Nene might also know a thing or two about such heavenly matters.
"I just remember one thing, God say he [is] going to make this team brand new," Nene said. "Start over. All over again. So, when you start all over again, you start at the bottom. Right now, we’re at the bottom. But we will build up strong. We will be good."