Bradley: Ready when needed
August, 7, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesAvery Bradley can't wait until he's back on the court playing basketball again.MONSON, Mass. -- Even just watching some neighborhood kids play a game of knockout, you can't help but notice that Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley looks a bit wistful.
A pair of shoulder surgeries over the past three months, including one on his left shoulder that ended his 2011-12 season during Boston's playoff run, have left Bradley uncertain when he will be able to fully resume basketball activities.
"For any athlete, especially me being a young athlete, it’s hard for me to not to be able to wake up every day and play the game of basketball," said Bradley, who visited the Dill family Tuesday to unveil the first of three home court makeover as part of a promotion with RE/MAX of New England. "It’s hard for me. I just have to take it day by day and let my body heal itself."
A very mature-sounding Bradley, who is still a mere 21 years old and coming off a season in which he supplanted surefire Hall-of-Famer Ray Allen as the team's starting shooting guard, said all the right things Tuesday. He clearly does not wish to talk much about his surgeries and the rehab he's currently enduring with hopes of being back on the floor as soon as possible.
But he patiently answers each question about his future and when exactly he'll be ready, saying: "I'm just preparing to help my team. Whenever I need to be ready, I’ll be ready."
A source said in July that Bradley would likely be ready in time for training camp in September, but the Celtics later acknowledged there was a chance he would miss the early part of the season.
Bradley underwent his first surgery in late May to repair small tears that repeatedly forced his left shoulder to dislocate late in the season. After that had sufficiently healed, Bradley went back under the knife on July 10 to stabilize his right shoulder.
Less than a month later, he did not require any support or brace on either shoulder on Tuesday, but couldn't engage in any sort of basketball activities (deferring instead to legend Cedric Maxwell and team mascot Lucky) while unveiling a Celtics-themed court for a family whose neighborhood was ravaged by a tornado that ripped through Western Massachusetts in 2011.
"I feel great," said Bradley. "But I’m just taking it day by day. I'm trying to get healthy, so that I’m ready for my team."
Pressed on his rehab, he said only, "I do whatever the trainers tell me I can do, and my doctors. I just take it day by day, don’t try to rush, and just let it heal."
Despite the loss of Ray Allen this offseason, the Celtics actually believe they have bolstered the shooting guard position with the additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. Bradley said he hasn't talked to either player yet, but noted how both he and Terry are from Seattle, and said he's excited to play alongside Lee.
Lee, though, will be competing with Bradley for the starting shooting guard role when both are healthy. Does Bradley feel entitled to that starting job after ascending to that role last season? He again shows maturity beyond his years with his response.
"I’m just ready to do whatever my team needs me to do," said Bradley. "I’m just going to be prepared and ready to go out there and do my role, and do whatever my team needs me to do to win games...
"I think [the offseason moves are] great. I think it’s great for our team. We have some good players -- Courtney Lee, Jason Terry... it’s just exciting to see what [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge has] done with the team. I just can’t wait for the season to start."
Bradley said he's enjoyed some downtime this offseason, escaping to the islands with his family for some relaxation. But he's also immersed himself in basketball, trekking to Las Vegas to watch the AAU national tournament and keeping an eye on all the Olympic action.
But it's evident as he watches a bunch of kids bury jumper after jumper, Bradley is eager to stop watching basketball and get back to playing it.