Nene shifts focus away from basketball

Nene shifts focus away from basketball
April 21, 2013, 4:00 pm
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When Nene came to Washington via trade in 2012, he wasn't 100%. And he contends he made it worse by forcing himself to play through injuries.

He had a left foot injury that nagged him and grew worse as he played for his country, Brazil, in the 2012 Olympics.

Nene missed the first nine games with the Wizards this past season because of it. He sat out 21 overall, including for injuries to both shoulders and soreness in his right knee.  

“I’m always going to look to the best (interest) of the team," he said. "The season was a little funny, a lot of players injured, we didn't have the chemistry, the connection. These seasons come. We just need to rest."

Nene told CSN Washington in early March that he was struggling to finish the season. A month later, he told CSN that he was "still suffering." He took himself out of the last two games of the regular season as the Wizards (29-53) finished on a six-game losing streak.

“It was painful. It was tough but we did it,” said Nene, who averaged 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds, his lowest totals in a full season since 2006-07. “The best part was not the way we start but the way we finished. Went well. For the people who talked a lot of crap about us, we shut mouths. Now we will have a new season and for sure it’s going to be better.”

In Nene’s first two NBA seasons, with the Denver Nuggets, he played 80 and 77 of a possible 82 games from 2002-04.

He tore his left knee ligament in the first regular season game of 2005 and had bruising and hyper-extensions to it that caused him to miss significant time after that. In 2008, he underwent surgery to remove a testicular tumor.

The only time Nene has played a full 82 games is in 2009-10. He followed that up with playing 75 games. The 2013-14 season with be his 12th, and he'll turn 31 before tip-off.

He’ll spend most of his time in the off-season in Colorado, where he’ll attempt to recover and finally have a healthy season when he returns to Washington.

Training with his national team doesn't appear to be an option, though Nene has no regrets about his past involvement.

“Definitely not,” he said. “Representing my culture is a big thing, too. I know there’s a right time for everything. (What) I did was a big honor, to represent my culture, the players, the people, my family, my God. (I’m) always going do that when I have the opportunity -- but (when) I’m healthy.

“Right now I just want to enjoy my family, do what I need to do. I don’t want to think about basketball for a while.”