It was just another day, another pickup game on the Georgia Tech practice court, the same court on which I prepared for my NBA draft workouts. Fast break, right side, I go off one foot and bang the rim. A statement jam! Just like how my father taught me...
I kept playing with throbbing in the wrist. It’s nothing out of the ordinary to feel pain in the wrist after a power punch. But this was different. When I went to shoot a pull-up jumper a few plays later, my jump shot didn't even make it to the rim. This was the beginning of a bad gut feeling.
Teyana, my other half, is the only person allowed around me when I'm pissed. I told her first. Her reaction was what it always is: "Is it broken? What do you need me to do? Are you OK to play?"
After the trainer watched me play with the injury taped up for the next two days, he, along with everyone else, concluded it was merely a bruise. My high threshold for pain will allow me to battle through pretty much anything if I find a way to run and slide. My father, my first coach, would never let me punk out if I was capable of helping the team.
If it was torn I wouldn't be able to "play through it"...right?
Wrong. The MRI at the Cleveland Clinic revealed that I tore the muscle holding my tendon completely.
This news was devastating, and the change sucks for me. I'm so used to doing it all, whether that be work done around the house, getting dressed (changing outfits several times a day), or going to the gym not only once for practice but twice daily to get extra shots up.
This injury has birthed yet another speed bump in my progress as a player without a doubt. But having awesome teammates and an awesome organization behind me in the Cleveland Cavaliers, a strong working woman at home taking care of me as well as carrying my first child and shouldering the load of a new puppy, I don't really have much time to complain about having to work a little harder.
I will be pampered by Teyana and the Cavs training staff until the stitches come out, and then it's back to insane focus for me to get back to where I was and even more before reporting for training camp (even now while writing this entry, I'm only able to write with my left hand as the pain on using my right hand is a bit too much to bear, it shames me to admit). But I will get through it.
Staring myself down in the bathroom mirror, I've already noticed the process of losing the muscle definition I built up working with my trainer, Adam Taylor, in Atlanta to come to Cleveland ready for an 82-game journey. With any surgery, the body's muscles seem to reset, and you have to start the progress you made in the past couple months over from damn near square one. Though I still have a six-pack, I know I have my work cut out for me if my ladybug is going to have anything to look at until she births our first child and gets her own six-pack back.
Luckily for me, I never shy away from a challenge, and I'm approaching this situation as nothing more than another test of being as strong-willed as my father! I contemplate beating the timeline every moment I'm awake on a day-to-day basis...but I won't sacrifice coming back early for a lingering injury. Playing through the shoulder injury in the playoffs was a hell I don't wish on anyone (still no excuse for losing).
I've been through a lot worse recovering from an eight-month process of returning from an ACL injury, so this injury doesn't call for panic. Don't anyone dare feel sorry for me.
This injury proves to me that the Lord gives his toughest tasks to his toughest soldiers. I'm not sure why he's picked me to come back from so many battles, but my guess is because he knows no matter what he throws at me, I will recover and I will be back for blood.
I'm aiming for being at my best in June, and that should come as no surprise. I'm confident in my team's ability to adapt to any situation the same way we adapted when they counted us out early in the playoffs. This wrist will not stop the Cleve Cav Clan from completing our mission.
I can't begin to try to articulate the competitive nature I possess. Truth is, none of us professional athletes are ever 100 percent healthy. We just decide what we're going to tape up and push through without making it worse. I want the city of Cleveland and everyone who supports not only myself but the Cavaliers to know that there's no way you will be able to trick your mind into thinking you want me to be healthy and competing for a title more than I want to be healthy and doing my part to get us back on that stage! When I return it will be for blood.
Iman Shumpert is a five-year NBA veteran who currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His wrist injury, reported last week, will likely keep him sidelined 12-14 weeks. Follow Iman Shumpert on Twitter at @ImanShumpert.