Ottawa Citizen

Raptors do battle with preseason injury bug

Bosh, Bargnani primary concerns for NBA squad

- BY AARON WHERRY

TORONTO • You know things might be getting a little silly when the NBA team’s head coach is drawn into a discussion of semantics.

“ You’re either injured or you’re hurt. If you’re injured, you can’t play. If you’re hurting a little bit, you’ve got to learn play through it,” Sam Mitchell said yesterday.

“ It just depends on if it’s going to constrict your mobility or not. If it’s something where it’s going to stop you from being able to move, then you’ve got to take some time off.”

The matter that demanded such clarificat­ion is either small or complex, a minor annoyance or the sort of damaging issue that ends up costing, say, a head coach his job.

Namely, the problem is Chris Bosh’s foot, its relative health and the focus it has indirectly placed on the ankle of his Toronto Raptors teammate Andrea Bargnani.

“ You know, everybody’s concerned about it … I mean, it’s mild,” Bosh said yesterday, referring to his case of plantar fasciitis. “ I don’t think everybody understand­s that it’s mild. We’re taking precaution­s so it won’t be serious, so I won’t have to play with any pain.”

For now Bosh is in pain. Not enough that he couldn’t play, but enough that he has missed a few preseason games so far and will sit again tonight when the Raptors play the Celtics in Boston.

Plantar fasciitis can be a minor or long- term concern, but afflicting as it does in this case the franchise’s biggest star and well- paid hope for the future, it has inspired much mental anguish among fans and observers.

Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in this summer’s draft, has pulled up lame with an ankle injury, reportedly the result of a sprain last season in Italy. He missed Toronto’s last game and will be a game- time decision tonight.

Individual­ly, such troubles would be cause for discussion. Together they tend to dominate the conversati­on.

“ All we can do is treat ( Bargnani’s ankle) and try to rest it when we can, but at some point you still got to get on the floor,” Mitchell said. “ At some point you’ve got to learn how to play with it .”

This is, of course, an accepted truth in sport.

“ I don’t think it comes down to a question of toughness,” Mitchell said, again quibbling. “ It just comes down to getting used to playing with aches and pains. That’s all.

“ After you’ve played so many years in the league, you’re never going to feel 100 per cent. It’s just impossible.”

Not counting Vince Carter’s perpetual plight, the Raptors have been largely fortunate in recent years to avoid the usual battery of sprains, pulls and breaks.

Before Bosh sprained his thumb in March, the last major injury was in 2004, when Jalen Rose broke a bone in his left hand, an injury that sent that season into a tailspin.

This season hasn’t even begun, though, and already Pape Sow has broken a vertebrae, Bosh has aggravated his heel, Bargnani has reinjured his ankle and T. J. Ford ( also a game- time decision tonight) has tweaked his hamstring and back.

Joey Graham even missed some of Sunday’s game with an unhappy tummy.

All of that is a sign of impending doom, or altogether normal.

“ When I had my knee surgery, my doctor told me, ‘ You know, the human body is not really designed to do all this stuff,’ ” Mitchell said, recalling how his knee gave out on him one night during pre- game warmups. “ So, at a certain point, it’s going to break down.”

 ?? PETER J. THOMPSON, NATIONAL POST ?? Forward Chris Bosh, who has a case of plantar fasciitis, has been held out of some preseason contests.
PETER J. THOMPSON, NATIONAL POST Forward Chris Bosh, who has a case of plantar fasciitis, has been held out of some preseason contests.

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