Some things never change and for Mike Dunleavy. Ice bags on both knees offer welcomed relief after a game.
But this year, icing his surgically repaired right knee is more about relief than coping as it was before he had risky surgery in March of 2009 to remove a big bone spur that was causing Dunleavy too much pain to keep playing. He's averaging just over 30 minutes a game, up from about 22 minutes last season, missing just one game so far for the birth of his daughter.
"I feel great," Dunleavy said recently. "It's just been terrific to be healthy and knock on wood, hopefully I stay that way."
"It was a long recovery, but I feel all the way back and my knee feels great."
After the jump, Dunleavy updates us on the pterodactyl beak bone chip which is still part of his life.
Dunleavy had played with the pain for several years as the bone spur continued to grow. He was used to playing with it and managing the ways it slowed him down. Last season, Dunleavy returned to the court earlier than expected but while the pain was gone his game never fully returned. The strength and stability of the knee wasn't 100% before last season started which meant no offseason training or preparation for the upcoming season that wasn't related to rehabbing and strengthening the knee.
Dunleavy's game and minutes appear back to normal this season. Well, the new normal. Gone is the irritating pain the bone spur caused that he had learned to play through. Dunleavy remains happy with his progress and the fact he could focus this offseason on preparing to play basketball again instead of rehabbing.
Much like his teammates Danny Granger and James Posey, Dunleavy played through last season while still in recovery mode which made for inconsistent play and frustration.
"You have to put the tough, unhealthy years behind you and work hard in the summer time so you come into the season prepared and then if your healthy, there's a good chance you can stay healthy."
By the way, what ever became of that monster bone spur I've referred to in the past as a pterodactyl beak?
"I think it's sitting somewhere in my locker," Dunleavy admitted.
So am I close with the pterodactyl beak comparison?
"Yes, it's right around the same consistency."
Unfortunately Dunleavy doesn't have plans to make a necklace out of his surgical momento.
"I haven't thrown that thing out but I probably should," Dunleavy said.
That might be the last step in the rehab process, although Dunleavy revealed there may be some subconscious reasoning behind why he hangs onto the bone chip. After all, going through the career-threatening procedure and coming out the other side in better shape puts the pleasure of playing in the NBA into perspective.
"I just like to keep around as a reminder, dont' want to take anything for granted."
Knock on wood, indeed.