Title: ‘You’re gonna have to cut my arm off to get me to not feel like I can play’: Inside Fred VanVleet’s frustrating week
Date: April 19, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Fred VanVleet’s tough week trying to go from shoulder injury to playing in Game 2 against the Wizards.
It took some kind words of encouragement from Serge Ibaka for Fred VanVleet to finally calm down. VanVleet was being removed from Game 2 after 2:49 of playing time in the second quarter, and the writing was on the wall. He’d had his chance to show that he could play through the residual shoulder discomfort from an injury suffered in the Toronto Raptors’ season finale nearly a week earlier and he probably wouldn’t be getting another.
“Yeah, he was tentative,” head coach Dwane Casey said afterwards. “It was just too tentative and just felt like we had to get him out and let him rest a little bit more, just see where he was. Just wasn’t ready. He’s courageous, he wants to play, he’s trying to play, he’s a tough kid, but you know, mother nature’s just telling him to take his time and let it heal a little bit more.”
VanVleet only had time to miss one three and commit a turnover. It was plain as he walked back to the bench that he knew his night was done, and it wasn’t something he was accepting in stride. He sat on the bench alone, eyes forward, for a couple of possessions before Ibaka slumped beside him at the end of a timeout break. The “good, encouraging voice” in VanVleet’s ear the past week or so, Ibaka slung an arm around the point guard and tried to talk him through it, VanVleet’s mouth firmly planted in a towel, his disappointment obvious. Ibaka’s message: The Raptors have him covered while he heals because they’ll need him once he’s healthy.