MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee Bucks’ season ended with a 120-66 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs on April 30th — and already, many of the players are looking forward to next season. One player in particular has a big reason to be thinking ahead — rookie Jabari Parker.
Ten days before Christmas, Parker’s impressive rookie season came to a disappointing end when he suffered a torn ACL.
“I feel when he got hurt, he was just getting into his groove. I mean seriously, he was just starting to take that next step. So it sucked,” Bucks center/forward John Henson said.
Parker says it feels like a distant memory.
“It kind of does — especially being the fourth month that I’ve been away from it and being able to be an observer. Really now it’s just defining my role. Role’s changed, more on the sidelines, but I appreciate it. That’s what I have to go through,” Parker said.
As his team moved forward and into the post-season, Parker had surgery and began the healing process.
I accept it, the things that happened to me. It’s the reality of it. Right now it’s building upon those things that I have in place and trying to prepare,” Parker said.
“I think he can come back and be even better, mentally and physically, stronger. Any time you come from serious injury like that, you can use it as a positive. I think he’s that type of kid that will motivate him and he will become even that much stronger, not just physically but mentally,” Bucks Head Coach Jason Kidd said.
“I think I held up really good, pretty good because I know where I want to be,” Parker said.
Parker wants to be in the lineup with the Bucks take the floor next fall. But that’s going to take a lot of work between now and then.
“I think I’m going to stick around here for the remainder of June. July I’ll be out in summer league. Eventually being able to be on the court, not playing of course. After that, August, maybe do a session, a combined session with forwards,” Parker said.
“I’ve been watching him work out — just kind of dribbling through the cones and he looks good man,” Henson said.
When Parker wasn’t working on his rehabilitation, he was with his team as they made their run into the post-season, and he was paying close attention to everything around him.
“Being able to watch helped me see the difference between the regular season and the post-season, how it has to be a little bit more focus into it,” Parker said.
As Parker began to heal, his endorsements continued as a Gatorade spot showed him working at the Bucks facility.
“I think I got good exposure in that. It’s always good that they help my brand, my image, just to show people it’s possible to come back,” Parker said.
Parker hopes he’s ready to go when training camp opens in early fall.
“I’d be right on schedule to where I want to go. Prepares me right before the season to get the wind going. So it’s always good to be a part of the team during the preseason,” Parker said.
Parker says he credits the Bucks organization for still believing in him. He says he’s much more comfortable because they didn’t give up on him. He will go to the summer league in Las Vegas, but he won’t play.