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Archive for Sunday, June 19, 2005

McDyess puts injuries in past

Detroit’s top reserve says he’s just thankful to be playing

June 19, 2005

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— The symbol of Antonio McDyess' comeback is in a landfill somewhere.

The Pistons' top reserve kept a pocket schedule in a drawer next to his bed during the regular season. When he woke up each day before a home game, he drew a line through that date on the schedule.

The former All-Star and Olympian - limited to just 52 games the previous three seasons because of knee injuries - marveled at his durability from November to April.

When the playoffs started, he threw the schedule away.

"I just wanted to start over fresh and forget about everything," McDyess said.

McDyess' health and talent have helped Detroit win two straight games against the San Antonio Spurs, tying the NBA Finals heading into Game 5 tonight.

In just 19 minutes in each of the past two games, McDyess has contributed a total of 25 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and three blocks.

The No. 2 pick overall in 1995 played in just four playoff games before signing with the Pistons last summer. He's played in 22 so far this postseason.

"He thanks everybody every day, like he has nothing to do with it," Detroit coach Larry Brown said Saturday. "Watching him and Grant Hill and what they have endured, the fact that they could play this year and make such a contribution is phenomenal.

"I don't know how you can go through what they went through and keep showing up every day."

McDyess almost didn't.

He told his agent at least twice last year he wanted to retire because he was frustrated with rehabbing his left knee while struggling to revive his career in New York and Phoenix. But Andy Miller did not heed his client's wishes, and during the last two months of last season, McDyess slowly started to feel and play better and wanted a future in the league.

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars was watching the 6-foot-9 power forward because he needed to replace Mehmet Okur, who he had to let go in free agency to re-sign Rasheed Wallace.

"Joe said he watched the last 18 games I played last year in Phoenix," McDyess said. "After what I went through with three knee surgeries and having everybody give up on me, Joe is here staying up at 2 o'clock in the morning watching me play. I was definitely flattered."

McDyess agreed to play in Detroit for $23 million over four years - turning down more lucrative offers - to replace Okur, who signed a $50 million, six-year deal in Utah.

The 30-year-old McDyess proved to be a relative bargain.

He averaged 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds over 77 regular-season games. He made up for the loss of Okur and Corliss Williamson, who was dealt to Philadelphia to clear salary-cap space to re-sign Tayshaun Prince this offseason and Ben Wallace next year.

In the playoffs, McDyess is averaging 7.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 19.4 minutes.

"It doesn't even feel like I went through a whole season yet," he said. "I've told my friends that my body and legs don't feel tired because of the role I'm playing, and because we're winning. I'm just happy to have this opportunity, and to not think about my knee anymore."

His statistics don't jump off the box score. But McDyess is thankful he can still jump, though not like he used to five years ago when he was one of the NBA's most spectacular dunkers and top players.

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