Jefferson, Brewer recover together

Teammates bouncing back from knee injuries

By Jerry Zgoda

McClatchy News Services

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves teammates Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer welcome the steaming, if belated, return of summer to Minnesota, not because of their shared Southern sensibilities but rather their healing right knees.

Brewer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in that knee during a game against Denver last November. Jefferson did exactly the same at New Orleans in February.


Together, they have become rehabilitation buddies and confidants daily this summer, with Brewer — a year younger and three NBA seasons less experienced — becoming Jefferson’s mentor, if only because he is more than two months further along in the recovery process.

When Jefferson awoke alarmed because his knee throbbed one morning earlier this month, he called Brewer immediately seeking counsel.

"It was cold and it was raining," Jefferson said. "I asked him, ’Does your knee ache when it rains?’ And he said, ’Yeah, it does all the time.’ It made me feel better because I thought I was having a relapse. It was just the weather. The next day, when the weather cleared up, it felt good."

Both declare themselves ahead of schedule and confident that modern medicine will guarantee their healthy return.

"I don’t worry about it, not once you have the surgery," said Brewer, who had his ligament surgically repaired in December. "It’s a routine surgery now. A lot of people tear their ACL."

They would seem to be the two Timberwolves players most guaranteed come November to be on a roster new basketball boss David Kahn seems determined to overhaul starting with Thursday night’s NBA draft, if only — particularly in Brewer’s case — because their trade values currently are diminished by their injuries.

Brewer, 23, expects to return to full-contact action in time to practice and play a game or two with the Wolves’ Las Vegas Summer League team next month. Jefferson, 24, is hopeful he can follow Brewer’s lead by mid-September so he is able to participate fully when training camp opens come October.

Brewer, so skinny thus far in his short NBA career, says he has gained 12 pounds — "It don’t look like it, but he might have," Jefferson said — because of time spent in the weight room while he has been away from the game. His arms look more defined; his legs look as pencil thin as ever.


"I’ve gotten a lot stronger," said Brewer, who weighs 188 pounds now and wants to reach 200 by training camp.

Jefferson, meanwhile, says he has lost 10 pounds since February and wants to drop another 15 or 20 pounds so he walks into training camp weighing about 255 pounds. He has done so because he has been back home to Mississippi and his mother’s cooking only once during his rehab and because he knows he has to be careful now that his routine is limited to physical-therapy exercises, jogging and running on a high-tech treadmill that supports his body weight with forced air.

"You’ve got to sacrifice," Jefferson said. "When you can’t do the things you normally do, you know you shouldn’t be in the kitchen looking for snack cakes. I just watched what I ate. Plus, I was too depressed to eat anyway for a lot of that time."

He also had to replace a television set at his Golden Valley home after he became just a bit too upset watching his teammates play one night.

Jefferson has a tidy little scar on his right knee as a reminder of that night in New Orleans when he came down awkwardly on his right leg late in the game and hopped across the floor in pain.

Brewer didn’t even realize he had suffered such a serious injury and he has a scar that dwarfs Jefferson’s.

"My scar is terrible," Brewer said. "Al’s looks pretty good; mine’s all over."

Both have had excessive free time to work on their jump shots and contemplate the importance of the game in their lives.


"It has made me realize that, you know, in the blink of an eye, your career could be over," said Jefferson, who spent six weeks after his February surgery in a knee brace and on crutches. "You can lose it all in one moment. It’s made me realize I have to do everything I can do to keep my body in fine shape.

"I don’t know how I’d wake up in the morning if I couldn’t play ball."

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