As part of my “NBA Playoff thoughts” series, I will be exploring introspective thoughts that come to me throughout the duration of the NBA Playoffs. In this article, I will be exploring how an injury can develop patience. Related: Everyone needs to warm up – NBA Playoff thoughts pt 1, The benefits of having a mentor – NBA Playoff thoughts pt 2, The importance of feedback – NBA Playoff thoughts pt 3.

The San Antonio Spurs are have been to the NBA Playoffs every season since the 1997-1998 NBA season. In fact, during their 20-year playoff run, they won 5 NBA championships. This year, they were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

This year, Kawhi Leonard was a key factor to the the Spurs’ success. Leonard is the Spurs’ starting Small Forward. He is two time Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA. His athleticism, basketball I.Q., and shut-down defense makes him an NBA superstar.

The key differences between Kawhi Leonard and myself are easily apparent:

  • He is listed at 6’7”, while I am 5’4”
  • His net worth is in the Millions, while mine is in the 1000s… for now
  • He’s a professional basketball player, while I am a professional salesperson

The similarities between Kawhi Leonard and I are not so obvious:

  • We were both born in Southern California
  • We both have some level of interest in Basketball, although his is more of a passion than an interest
  • We both got injured recently.

Kawhi Leonard sustained an in-game injury when he landed on another player’s ankle after a jump shot. That player was Zaza Pachulia, the Warriors’ center. Unfortunately, Leonard’s severe ankle sprain kept him out of the rest of the playoffs.

“San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (2) grabs his leg after suffering an injury while playing against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Sunday, May 14, 2017. The Golden State Warriors defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-111.” Source: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Similarly, I sustained an injury performing an exercise during one of my prescribed workouts from my olympic weightlifting coach. More specifically, I strained posterior rotator cuff doing a “Push Press.”

I strained my posterior rotator cuff. The strain was a product of weaker surrounding muscles in my shoulder.

Although our injuries varied in severity, we were both prohibited from participating in a sport we love. He could not contribute to the Spurs’ playoff efforts. I could not weightlift with my fellow barbell club members.

If only life were like a video game. That way injuries would not affect my progress as a weightlifter, or Kawhi’s as a player. Ideally, we want to continue exactly where we left off before we suffered our respective injuries.

The reality is that life does not work like that. There isn’t a “CTRL + S” or autosave in life. Alas, progress is greatly setback due to injury. It’s a part of any sport or physical activity.

Developing your patience is one silver lining to enduring an injury. Ultimately, your goal is to surpass your “pre-injury” progress. That’s going to take time to heal, time for physical therapy,  and time to rebuild your body.

Time to heal

When you’re injured, the first and most important thing you do is rest. It’s what you HAVE to do. That takes time. Depending on the severity of your injury, the time will vary. You physically cannot rush this step.

In my opinion, this is the most difficult step. The time your body takes to heal is out of your hands. Granted, you can positively or negatively impact the healing experience. But, the reality is that Grandfather Time is in full control of the situation.

Time for physical therapy

The severity of your injury dictates the difficulty of your physical therapy (PT). Your therapy will surround a specific plan to alleviate the pain from your injury, while strengthening the supporting muscles of the affected area.

The PT exercises take time to work. There isn’t a direct correlation with doing more PT exercises and increasing your healing factor. In fact, too much work can exacerbate the injury.  Remember, your body is still healing, and needs time to fix itself.

Elite Sports Physical Therapy did a wonderful job of fixing my shoulder! If you’re in the SF Bay Area, check them out! Source: Elite Sports Physical Therapy

This phase in the healing process is easier to stomach. PT gives you a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a long and arduous process, but it’s progress in the right direction.

Time for the rebuild

As I intimated earlier, your physical progress cannot be saved like a Word document. Sometimes it will feel like you have start all over.

When I started lightly weightlifing again, I was back to square one. After not practicing the movements of the snatch and clean and jerk for weeks, everything felt off. My timing and positions were all over the place. Nothing has yet to feel back to normal.

I am still significantly weaker than before I was injured. That’s completely normal. It’s going to take time to get back to my former, healthy self. I will have to be more diligent, and move with more intention to rebuild my form and strength. I am ready to work twice as hard to progress further than before.

The physical challenges are obvious. The mental challenges are less obvious. Your brain desires to lift with the same intensity as before. You desire to pretend as if the injury didn’t happen. You want to dive right back into where you were.

That’s a great fantasy, but an unrealistic thought. As you might guess. It will take time. With time, diligence, and persistence, you will hopefully surpass your former “save point.”

Other ways you can build patience

While getting injured is a great way to build your patience, it’s not recommended. Please don’t purposefully get injured with the hopes of becoming a more patient person. It physically sucks, and it’s painful.

There are other ways you can build patience. I recommend other hobbies that require time as a key factor to success. Some examples of such hobbies are:

  • Personal finance
  • Personal development
  • Reading
  • Starting a blog
  • Meditating

The list goes on. Building patience is also an exercise in seeing the bigger picture. Be clear about your lasting goal and play for the long-term.

As much as I am a fan of the Golden State Warriors, I wish Kawhi Leonard a speedy recovery!

Readers, what are ways that you build your patience?