MIAMI – Rodney McGruder will be getting his pre-op marching orders when he meets with doctors today. On Tuesday, he will undergo surgery to repair a stress fracture on his left tibia.
So on Sunday the Heat forward probably just took it easy, right? Lounged around on the couch. Watched some football.
That’s so not Rodney.
On Sunday, McGruder was one of the first to arrive at the team’s practice facility. He got in a lift and rode the stationary bike.
Just doing whatever he could before taking on at least three months of rehab.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” he said after Sunday’s practice.
Still, don’t expected surgery to keep McGruder down. He will be with his teammates throughout the entire season, even when he’s rehabbing his leg and watching games in his street clothes.
“I’m doing everything they’re doing,” McGruder said. “I’m in the weight room. I’m going to be at practice. Just be here with the team. Keep yourself mentally there when you’re with the team. If you just get away you can go crazy.”
Remember, this is the same guy who did not take a vacation this summer other than heading home to the Washington, D.C. area for his birthday weekend.
That attitude is why Thursday’s announcement – the Heat did not put a timetable on how long he would be out but reports have him missing 3 to 6 months – hit hard. President Pat Riley has been vocal about McGruder being one of his favorite players. And coach Erik Spoelstra on Sunday called McGruder “our most indestructible player last year” after saying he was “crushed” when he heard the news.
“But I know him as a man,” Spoelstra said. “I know how he’s going to respond to this and he’s going to come back quicker than most human beings. But we’ll do it in a healthy way. And, his spirits haven’t even changed. That’s what makes Rodney, Rodney. That kind of positive spirit will allow him to come back earlier than most.”
On a team that lost more player games due to injury and illness than any other in the league last year, McGruder was a rock. Just a rookie, he played in a team high 78 games, starting 65 at small forward while Justise Winslow was dealing with wrist and shoulder injuries. This after making the team on the final cut down day.
Needless to say, McGruder did not take the news very well.
“I was mad,” he said. “I can’t let that last too long because there’s not too much I can really do about it. Take the next step and just look forward to that.”
McGruder figured the pain he had been dealing with in his leg was shin splints. But when it worsened X-rays were ordered.
Now, he can only look ahead.
“I’m just going to attack the rehab try to get the most out of that so I can be ready when everything heals up,” said McGruder, who added he hopes to be back this season. “They haven’t really told me too much. Just got to take it a day at a time. I don’t want to really look at the big picture and say months and things like that. I just want to attack it one day at a time and get better every day.”