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Rudy Gay, a famous Achilles tear success story, offers advice for John Wall

Rudy Gay, a famous Achilles tear success story, offers advice for John Wall

WASHINGTON -- While some professional athletes have become synonymous with injuries because of how their careers have been derailed, there is a flip-side where others have become famous success stories. Nowadays, when an NFL running back tears his ACL, Adrian Peterson's name is often invoked. Rudy Gay is to a certain extent similar in the NBA for torn Achilles tendons.

In January of 2017, when he was with the Kings, Gay collapsed in agony while playing the Indiana Pacers. He suffered a full tear of his left Achilles tendon. He was 30 years old and a player whose game was predicated on athleticism.

Now in his third season since the injury, Gay is a key member of the San Antonio Spurs' rotation at the age of 33. In those two-plus seasons, he has played 140 games with solid numbers of 12.6 points, 6.1 rebounds per game and a .534 effective field-goal percentage.

Gay is one of the testimonials that should give the Wizards hope for John Wall, who is currently nine months into his own Achilles rehab. In fact, Gay spoke to Wall months ago about the road ahead.

"When it first happened, I talked to him," Gay said. "I'm always like anytime that happens to anybody in the league, they hit me up and I tell them exactly how I did it. I did the same thing with Kobe [Bryant]. I called him and he told me exactly what I needed to do and I followed that."

Gay told Wall, as he has told others in recent years, that the hardest part is not getting your leg back to 100 percent. What Gay found particularly difficult was clearing his head of the fear he would have the same injury again.

"It's mentally knowing when you go through that injury and the act of having that injury, the time always goes through your mind - 'what move did I make for that to happen?' Once you get that out of your mind, you're good," Gay said.

Gay said it took him a year to get over that. He also had to block out a lot of noise to remain confident in his ability to return.

"A lot of people have this image where they see it as a death wish for this sport. But you can't think like that when you're going through the rehab because it will affect you," he said.

Gay was a top high school prospect from Baltimore, Md. and starred at the University of Connecticut before going eighth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. He has long been known as a leaper, able to play well above the rim with his 6-foot-8 frame.

Because of that, there was plenty of skepticism over whether Gay would be able to affect games in the same way. But in Wednesday's game between the Wizards and Spurs, Gay showed he still has that jumping ability, even at his age and with his health history.

In the second half, Gay drove right and reached up for a rim-rattling slam. He jumped off his left leg, the same one that had the torn Achilles.

It was another reminder of what he has overcome. Tearing your Achilles used to be a devastating injury that ended many careers. Now there are people like Gay, still getting it done at the highest level.

He takes pride in being a success story, but also finds it strange to have that distinction.

"That's not why I did it. I did it just so I could prove to myself. I wasn't really trying to prove it to anybody, I was just trying to prove to myself I could get healthy and get back to the NBA. I think I did it at [30]. Everyone told me it would be tough to come back. Even my doctor told me I wouldn't be myself. The more people that told me I couldn't do it, the more it made me want to," he said.

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NBA reportedly working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition while players are in isolation

NBA reportedly working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition while players are in isolation

While we wait for the 2019-20 NBA season to return from suspension, the league may have found another way to entertain us. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is working on televising a H-O-R-S-E competition featuring several high-profile players, though they are unnamed as of now. 

In this case, players would shoot by themselves, presumably at their homes, and go shot-for-shot with other players remotely. The great thing about H-O-R-S-E is all you need to be able to do is shoot, leaving the door open for former players like Paul Pierce to get in on the fun. 

This wouldn't be the first time we've seen NBA players playing H-O-R-S-E on television. Back in 2010, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and Omri Casspi played each other in H-O-R-S-E as a part of All-Star weekend. As you'd expect, Durant won. 

This follows the NBA kickstarting the first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament Friday, where 16 NBA stars play each other in an NBA 2K20 tournament for charity. Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura headline the event that is expected to run until April 11. 

According to Woj, the details on the H-O-R-S-E competition are still being finalized with the league and ESPN, who'd ultimately air the event. 

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Kobe Bryant posthumously highlights loaded 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant posthumously highlights loaded 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

Kobe Bryant’s resume has yet another entry to prove his greatness: He’s now, officially, a Hall of Famer.

And he’s got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any.

Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

They all got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings. Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich finally got his call, as did longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton.

They were the eight finalists who were announced in February, and the panel of 24 voters who were tasked to decide who merited selection wound up choosing them all. Also headed to the Hall this year: former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.

“He was the head of FIBA and this was a way to honor him,” Hall of Fame Chairman and enshrinee Jerry Colangelo said. “It was a special thing done through that committee.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, about three weeks before the Hall of Fame said -- as if there was going to be any doubt -- that he was a finalist. Duncan and Garnett were also widely perceived to be locks to be part of this class; they were both 15-time NBA All-Stars, and Bryant was an 18-time selection.

Bryant's death has been part of a jarring start of the year for basketball: Commissioner Emeritus David Stern died on Jan. 1, Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine who died in the crash in late January, and the NBA shut down March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip the U.S.

“Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate," Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, said on the ESPN broadcast of the class announcement. “But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a steppingstone to be here. So we’re incredibly proud of him."

Bryant was also a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, just as Duncan was with the San Antonio Spurs.

“This is an incredibly special class, for many reasons,” Colangelo said.

Garnett is the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 blocks and 1,500 steals. He also was part of Boston's 2008 NBA title.

“This is the culmination," Garnett said. “All those hours ... this is what you do it for, right here. To be able to be called ‘Hall of Famer' is everything."

Catchings was a 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Tomjanovich, who had overwhelming support from NBA peers who couldn’t understand why it took so long for his selection, was a five-time All-Star as a player, guided Houston to back-to-back titles and took the 2000 U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal.

Mulkey has three NCAA titles as a coach, won two others as a player and had Baylor in position to vie for another championship this season had the global coronavirus pandemic not forced the shutdown of virtually every sport around the globe. Stevens has coached for 43 years and is a five-time Division II coach of the year. Sutton won more than 800 games in nearly four decades, and Baumann was one of the most powerful voices in international basketball until his death in 2018.

The enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, is scheduled for Aug. 29. Should the pandemic force a delay, there is a tentative plan for an October ceremony as well.

For this year, largely because of the star power of this class, the Hall chose to enact a one-year suspension of direct elections from the Veteran’s, Women’s Veteran’s, Early African-American Pioneers and Contributors categories.

With Bryant, Duncan and Garnett as perhaps the top NBA trio to ever enter simultaneously, the Hall wanted to make sure that no enshrinee would be overlooked.

“We didn’t need to water it down,” Colangelo said. “Next year is another year for many.”

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