Caris LeVert walked the length of the Nets’ Industry City practice court on crutches. He set aside the crutches, sat on a raised chair and declared himself “blessed” after suffering an injury that looked worse than it ended up being.
LeVert, the Nets’ emerging star guard, said on Monday that he thought he had suffered only “a bad sprain” when he went down after contesting a shot by Timberwolves rookie Josh Okogie and having his lower right leg collapse in grotesque fashion above the ankle on Nov. 12 in Minnesota. “I think the first thing I thought was like, ‘Man, that’s a bad sprain. I probably won’t be able to play any more today,’ ’’ LeVert said in his first public comments (other than on social media) since the injury. “[That was] before actually looking at it, because the pain of it just felt like a regular sprain and I knew I kind of fell on the side of my ankle. Obviously, when I looked at it, I was like, ‘That’s messed up.’ ”
LeVert suffered a subtalar dislocation of the right foot and was relieved to learn he did not need surgery. He expects to play again this season, although he does not have a timetable in mind that he wishes to share. It’s enough that it’s a strong possibility. “When they carried me off and then we went in the back, they kind of had to put it back in place,” LeVert said. “That was actually really painful. That was the most painful part of it all. And then they took me to the hospital . . . and then they told me that they didn’t see anything major aside from the dislocation and they would let me know the next day [after] some more tests at the hospital back in New York. So I was pretty relieved. Then, obviously, the next day I was very relieved.”
LeVert is averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. The Nets left after practice for Miami, where they will face the Heat on Tuesday before visiting Dallas on Thanksgiving Eve. LeVert, who had three foot surgeries while at Michigan, did not travel with the team.
He was relieved to have flown back with the team from Minneapolis after suffering the injury, although he said he doesn’t remember much about the flight because he slept a lot. Later that night, however, LeVert did not sleep, because even though early indications were hopeful, he knew he had to undergo tests back in New York to confirm the diagnosis.
Fortunately for the 24-year-old, the doctors agreed that rehab and not surgery was the prescription.
“I remember that night, when I got to the hospital [in New York], I didn’t get any sleep because I was just thinking the whole time, hoping it wasn’t as bad as it looked and how it felt,” he said. “But obviously I’m very blessed because it could have been a lot worse.”
LeVert’s predicament led to an outpouring of support from his peers in the NBA, including a social-media message from LeBron James. LeVert said he was surprised that a few NBA stars who reached out had his phone number. Another thing to feel blessed about.