So ... how's Kyrie Irving's toe doing?
That question has been unanswerable for much of the 2011 season. The injury that has sidelined Irving, who looked like a player of the year candidate during the first month of his freshman season, is a rare, hard-to-explain toe ligament issue that's caused the Duke medical staff and Irving himself to throw up their hands in collective frustration. On Jan. 6, Duke assistant Chris Collins basically called it turf toe, but way worse. Or as I like to say: super-evil turf toe. I'm still not sure I've heard a better name for Irving's injury than that.
Anyway, Irving doesn't seem to be planning a return to the court anytime soon, but he is rehabbing every day with Duke's training staff in the hopes of being able to play at some point before his freshman season draws to a close. (A potential No. 1 overall pick, Irving is likely to go straight to the pros after this season; this should be his last year at the school.) Duke Blue Planet decided to spend some time documenting exactly what Irving's rehab entails:
The communal spirit and team-oriented attitude seem to be helping Irving quite a bit, but it can't hurt that Nolan Smith seems so willing to accept ice cube projectiles hitting his head. Don't get me wrong; rehab looks terrible. But that part actually looks pretty fun.
More importantly, there are no good long-term prognoses for Irving's return. The closest anyone gets to discussing Irving's return is Irving himself, who closes the video with this:
"There is light at the end of the tunnel," Irving said. "Whether I come back this year, or somewhere in the future, you know, I'm going to be playing again."
That's not the most encouraging thing Duke fans have heard lately. It doesn't rule out the possibility that Irving could return for the tournament, but it doesn't sound all that optimistic, either.