Jabari Parker upbeat at halfway point of knee rehab

Aug 29, 2017 | by Matt Velazquez, Journal Sentinel

Jabari Parker represented his Milwaukee Bucks teammates Tuesday at the team's announcement of its "Return to the MECCA" game on Oct. 26 against the Boston Celtics.

In many ways, it made perfect sense for Parker, one of the young, rising stars in the NBA, to be there.

He's heard stories about the MECCA from his father, Sonny, who played there during his six-year NBA career with the Golden State Warriors from 1976-'82. Jabari has a strong interest in history and has attempted to soak up everything he can about the Bucks franchise since arriving in 2014 as the No. 2 pick in the draft.

However, there was one awkward aspect to Parker's presence.

Of all the members of the Bucks' roster, he's the only one who certainly won't play on Oct. 26. That's because he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for the second time six months ago and the injury is expected to keep him out of game action until February.

While Parker won't be able to fully take part in the event, he didn't look any bit disappointed on Tuesday. He proudly stood in front of the assembled crowd at UWM Panther Arena, smiling next to the Nike Classic Edition uniforms he helped unveil while looking forward to the day this season he'll get to compete wearing one.

"It's something to have," Parker said of the "Return to the MECCA" game. "I wouldn't have been able to step foot in here, so at least I can kind of get some shots up or watch a game here, so that's the most important. That's what I try to be — grateful — for any opportunity."

Parker's positive attitude carried over to a conversation about how his rehab is progressing. The process, which Parker is undergoing for the second time in less than three years, is long and grueling, but Parker's approach, progress and positivity have impressed people in the Bucks organization.

Asked how things are going now, six months into the process, Parker opted for a playfully coy response.

"You've just got to be there to see," he said with a smile. "Come visit me one day. I get lonely in that gym."

He then got more serious.

"I am (coming along)," Parker said. "Just staying within my means and doing what I can control each and every day."

Over the course of the spring and summer, Parker has been in the gym lifting weights, doing some running and putting up shots as part of his rehab. The activities he can participate in are limited and he still can't do much more than dribble and shoot when it pertains to basketball-specific skills.

He insists, though, that the long hours out of competition aren't making him stir crazy.

"I'm not because anything is better than being on crutches," Parker said. "I've been there and I'm just thankful for the little I can do. I can move forward. I like to conquer the task ahead of me."