A long, frustrating road back for Glen Davis

Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel

Glen Davis has had to sit and wait for a long time.

Really since Dec. 15, 2012 when Davis came bulldozing down the lane as he so often does and went crashing down hard off of an Emeka Okafor block attempt. Davis has seen set back after set back as he tried to work his way back from injury after injury.

Davis came back from that and then quickly broke his foot just nine games later. Things got more complicated when Davis was cleared to begin fully working out again and then felt discomfort and needed a second surgery on the same broken foot.

The forward went from career season — averaging 15.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while anchoring a top-10 defense for a surprise 12-13 team — to wondering if he was ever going to be the same again. Davis' summer was reduced to rehabbing his foot — running in the pool and set shots if he is able to get on a basketball court. There was not much Davis could do with his injury.

He has had to be patient and make sure when he comes back, he is truly ready to return.

"It's so difficult [to be patient with the injury]," Davis said. "It's probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Especially those days when I walk in here and I feel like I can run and there is somebody telling me 'You can't do this, you can't do that.' It gets frustrating. But you understand at the end of the day what you are trying to accomplish. I just want to get back to the floor and get back to the game. As long as I can do that, I think it will be OK."

And no one on this Magic roster knows more what the organization is trying to accomplish like Davis. He won a championship with the Celtics as a rookie and was playing for championships in the early years of his career.

Elsa/Getty Images/Zimbio
Elsa/Getty Images/Zimbio

Davis said when he was at his lowest moments this summer he had to bring out his 2008 championship ring out of storage and watch some of his best game sto remind himself how he can play when he is healthy. That did include his game-winner over the Magic in Game Four of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

His knowledge right now though will come exclusively from the bench. As Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post noted, his only "basketball activity" during the first day of training camp was shooting free throws. That is about all he is allowed to do right now.

It has been frustrating for Davis. He spent only about a month out of a boot since his original surgery in January. Davis echoed Rob Hennigan's sentiment that he will be brought back slowly. Nobody wants a second set back that could see Davis miss even more time.

Davis re-iterated that he will return when he feels he is truly ready. That means losing a little bit more weight — his offseason training plan was ruined by his forced inactivity — is a must before he can return. Davis recognized he can no longer play at certain weights because he had two surgeries on his foot.

It will not be the same for Davis when he does return.

Not only will his health situation be different, but the team is largely different. Tobias Harris has come in and many of the younger players are ready and capable of taking on larger roles. It is not hard to see that Davis is being squeezed out just a bit — both Andrew Nicholson and Tobias Harris can play power forward and Jason Maxiell is in the mix too as another battle-tested veteran on the roster.

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Davis was a big contributor when the team was successful early on in the season. Now, it seems, he just wants to prove he can contribute to the team coming off his seemingly lost year to injury.

"I would want to show the world what I can really truly do a full year before they get rid of me," Davis said. "I haven't even gotten to play a whole season yet. I really only got to play 30 games [last year].

"We don't really know what we can do [as a team]. We have seen some spurts and some things during the year. We were winning. It wasn't like we were losing. But as soon as I get hurt, we go down. I don't really look into that right now. I'm still the captain of this team and I'm going to do my part until they say, 'Hey man, we're going to do something else.'"

Davis knows that he can be a net positive for this team still. Glen Davis had 0.9 defensive win shares for his limited time. That was good for fourth on the team last year. His defensive impact statistically was much more from a plus-minus standpoint. The Magic went from 12-13 to 20-62, going 8-49 after Davis' injury.

This is why Davis is so confident that this team can be in the Playoff conversation if everyone is healthy. There is a lot of talent on the roster. It is easy to tell Davis wants to get back and do his part for this young roster.

"It sucked at a point to know that you affect the team that much. But at the same time it is a good feeling because you do know you have some value. As long as you stay consistent, you can do some big things.

"Our record before I got hurt, we were right in the mix. Then we dropped games and I am out. It was tough to know that the question lies 'Are you the reason why we're losing.' You want to be there, you want to be a part of the team. You want to experience those things. It made me appreciate the game even more and when I get the opportunity to get back on the court, I'm never going to leave."

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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