Right before tournament season in the heat of conference play, Nerlens Noel took a tumble that left Kentucky without its star. Just one month before Noel tore his ACL, another team was left without a player when Rajon Rondo also tore his, leaving the Boston Celtics without their starting point guard for the remainder of the NBA season. As it turns out, the two had more in common than a Kentucky jersey.
Rondo reached out to Nerlens the day after Noel had his surgery. Rondo’s ACL surgery was done exactly one month prior and by the same doctor, James Andrews. Aside from the fact that Rondo too played at Kentucky, he also plays for Nerlens’ favorite NBA team, the Celtics. Rondo told Nerlens what to expect in recovery and rehab and gave him well wishes in the upcoming draft, where Nerlens is projected to go #1.
Nerlens is not the only Kentucky player to suffer an ACL injury during his time at UK, however. Another former Cat, Derek Anderson, tore his ACL in the 1996-1997 season at Kentucky, his final season. He was taken 13th overall in the 1997 draft and played 11 seasons in the league. Anderson also reached out to Nerlens, offering support and came to Kentucky before Nerlens left to visit him and give advice and words of encouragement.
If Nerlens is taken #1 overall, he will likely go to the Cleveland Cavilers. That’s something else he could have in common with Derek Anderson, as that’s who drafted him out of Kentucky as well. Nerlens could fall, but experts say its unlikely he goes lower than #2 overall.
Nerlens had his surgery March 12 and is in the midst of rehab with his physical therapist Kevin Wilk in Alabama. “I’m feeling good,” Noel says. “I’m still ahead of schedule with the things that I’m doing. It’s usually about a seven- to eight-month injury timeline to returning. I’m just taking steps to get back. From when I got surgery, eight months would be probably around Christmas. It’s probably November to Christmas. There’s no rush. I’m just trying to get back.” Luckily for Nerlens, he is well enough to walk across the stage and shake David Stern’s hand at the NBA Draft later this month. Rondo is also expected back early in the 2013-2014 season.
Nerlens can learn from Rondo and Anderson both on and off the court- injured and healthy. Anderson is an author (his latest book is called Stamina) and has a foundation for battered women and children and also feed, supplies, and gives guidance to underprivileged children. Rondo also has a foundation for children of low-income families to provide them with safe places to stay, resources and helping them build their futures. He works with the Kid’s Day program at Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Apparently Rajon Rondo is also a Connect Four whiz and was recently on Fashion Police on the E! Network. Both had successful careers in both the NBA and at Kentucky.
Hopefully we see Nerlens back on the hardwood before another infamous Calipari #1 pick who suffered the same injury.
I would also like to wish all the BBN Dads out there a Happy Father’s Day!