NBA: May vows to be back
By Mike Cranston
LAS VEGAS ó Sean May has spent the past three years seemingly always on crutches and the butt of fat jokes.
He’s undergone three knee surgeries, ballooned to nearly 300 pounds and has played in only 58 of the Charlotte Bobcats’ 246 games. And after undergoing a risky microfracture procedure in October, there were questions if the 13th pick in the 2005 draft would ever play again.
But after spending 14 weeks on crutches, May’s recovery reached a milestone a few days ago when he began running. He took part in conditioning drills during a minicamp practice Thursday night, and May is certain he’ll be ready for the start of training camp in the fall.
Really, he is.
“Without a doubt. As long as by mid August I’m full go, that will give me a good month, month and a half to really get at it with the team,” May said after a workout at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion. “I don’t want to have any restrictions during training camp. I’m sure they’ll monitor me a little bit and probably safeguard by not doing two-a-days and whatever. But as far as I’m concerned, I don’t want it to be, ‘He’s not ready yet.”‘
But that is how the 6-foot-9 May has been characterized as a pro, a steep fall after being the most outstanding player in the Final Four for leading North Carolina to the national championship in 2005. May was given a standing ovation by fans the day after he and former Tar Heel teammate Raymond Felton were selected by the Bobcats.
So far, it’s been May’s top NBA highlight.
May had arthroscopic surgery to remove damaged cartilage before his first training camp, then had another surgery in January that ended his rookie season after 23 games.
The lack of cartilage caused a bone bruise to develop, and the pain allowed him to play in only 35 games in the 2005-06 season. His weight soared, and then-coach Bernie Bickerstaff suggested the extra pounds played a role in his injuries.
When the Bobcats started training camp last fall, May was seeing knee specialists. He then decided to undergo microfracture surgery, where small holes are drilled in bones surrounding the knee to stimulate cartilage growth. He was out for the season ó again.
Unable to work out, May gained more weight and caught an earful from his father, Scott, the MVP of Indiana’s 1976 unbeaten national championship team and a seven-year NBA veteran.
“The highest I was probably 286 (pounds). It’s the highest I’ve ever been,” May said. “My dad was on me every day about it. But most guys are only on crutches for six weeks. I was on them for 14 weeks. I just couldn’t do a whole lot.
“It definitely was a tough time for me, but I’ve got it back under control. I think 270 right now is an ideal weight. Once I start running I’ll lose another 10-15 pounds and I’ll be right where I want to be.”
May’s rehab has coincided with a change to a high-protein diet, part of a plan to reinvent his career.
“It’s tough, I eat pork loins for breakfast,” May said. “It’s the worst thing in the world but it helps me get leaner.”
Entering the vinal year of his rookie contract, May faces a critical season. He’s averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in his limited NBA playing time and the rebounding-poor Bobcats desperately need his presence in the paint.
But coach Larry Brown appeared cautious of expecting too much.
“He’s making progress. He looks great,” Brown said. “I know how conscientious he is. But with that kind of injury you just never know.”
May was supposed to begin running two months ago, but was slowed by continued problems with the bone bruise. But the recent breakthrough has given May confidence.
“It’s good just to be back on the basketball court. It feels great,” May said. “I’m not where I want to be, but since October I haven’t had any setbacks. It’s been long but it’s been good.”
The head honchos of this newspaper have been mighty good to me over the past 13 years. I’ve flown all... read more