Jameer Nelson, please heed this warning:
You have no business playing in the NBA Finals.
Yes, you have been cleared by doctors to practice. Last time I checked, these doctors aren't qualified to judge your ability to play in an NBA game.
Sure, you can shoot and absorb contact on your right shoulder. I can also shoot and absorb contact with my right shoulder, but I am in no way ready to play in the NBA today.
In truth, Magic fans like myself should be pleased that you are reportedly two months ahead of your rehabilitation schedule. That's great news. We can't wait for you to be back in all-star form.
The problem is, in all likelihood, you will not be in all-star form if you play in these Finals. And even if you do play decently, ultimately you will have a negative impact on the team unless you are able to play at a higher level than Rafer Alston and overcome the disruption in team chemistry at this critical juncture.
Rafer's averages have been solid this postseason: 12.7 points, 4.4 assists, 1.61 steals, and a 2.47 assist to turnover ratio. He's also a three-point shooting threat as he is making 35.1 percent of his treys. Most importantly, the Magic are winning with Alston running the point, so there is no urgent need for your return.
Head coach Stan Van Gundy made no effort to downplay the possible impact on team chemistry, and his skepticism was apparent. "You always worry about that...to me, four months is a long time to be out to have two practices and play in the NBA Finals."
Besides the team chemistry aspect, Jameer, you are also risking your long-term health.
Just listen to the defensive player of the year and your team's best player, Dwight Howard: "I just want him healthy. He doesn't have to play if he doesn't feel up to it. I'd rather see him healthy more than anything because his career in the long run is more important. This is just one series."
Repeat after me, Jameer: This is just one series!
You and the rest of the Orlando Magic have a bright future ahead since much of the team is still in its 20's.
So please, Jameer, swallow your pride and do what's best for you and the team: don't lace up those sneaks until training camp.