He has accelerated his rehabilitation and wants to show off for the national team in the summer NBA League. I hope I’m not completely wooden, said Krejčí

After the end of the first season in the NBA, on the recommendation of the club, you underwent knee arthroscopy, where you had a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the past and now both menisci are damaged. Do you feel that he has relieved you?

The doctors cleared everything that was needed and I felt incredible relief. I lived on ibuprofen for the last month of the season as my menisci were sticking together, but I had to finish it. There was no risk of getting worse, I just got used to playing with a little pain.

Photo: Twitter @CAlmanza1007

Vít KrejčíPicture: Twitter @CAlmanza1007

But how did you accept the doctors’ first estimate of the rehabilitation period, which was up to sixteen weeks?

That was quite a blow. But I thought I could do it faster. Only in the first stage I had to be patient and be as gentle as possible on my knee. However, once I started adding more, I pushed myself and was able to cut my recovery in half.

So are you 100% ready for Summer League abroad?

The knee doesn’t hurt, I feel really good and I should be able to play 100 percent. Maybe there are still movements where I watch myself inside, but I try to get rid of it. We start from Tuesday with three games in Utah, then we play the next one in Vegas, which is traditionally the center of the league. Everyone at Oklahoma knew I wasn’t very fit at the end of the season, so now I have to show up. I hope I’m not completely wooden. It’s important for me to show them what I can do.

Has the club set a condition that you must participate in summer competition?

That is not the question. There’s no reason on my end or the Thunder’s end not to play him. On the contrary, everything makes sense and makes sense, because I didn’t get many minutes in the first NBA season, and I was also after knee surgery. We all know that I can perform better than I did abroad.

How did you see the first season in the NBA from your perspective?

It seems like a bit of a crazy ride up, down. I also learned a lot from him and I learned how demanding the NBA is not only physically, but also mentally. Before that, I wasted the whole year, it’s a very difficult thing when you don’t know how to play basketball, but even with everything bad you move somewhere. Even when things don’t go according to plan, you have to believe in what you’re doing and don’t let doubts overwhelm you.

Are you considering it that you have to wait for the right opportunity in an Oklahoma jersey?

I thought the camp was great, then there were visa problems. Just when I felt like I was finally getting the hang of it basketball-wise, my knee started to hurt more than usual. Then I ended up in the G-League, and when I finally started getting minutes in the NBA, I sprained my ankle. It wasn’t until sometime in February that I actually went to the field. Because we had a lot of injuries at the end of the season, I also played a lot of ball, I probably won’t do that anymore.

Do you think you’ll get a different role on the Thunder team?

Certainly, it will be more focused on defense and built on the fact that you leave from substitution and try to control the best opponents, with stars like Jannis Adetokunbo, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook standing against you. I always look up to them and suddenly I prepare for them as an opponent. It’s not easy to get on the board in just ten minutes, but to run out there with all your might and stop the opponent.

But you had similar stints in Zaragoza, Spain, before you went through the draft last year and suffered a life-threatening knee injury.

It is so. I’m always ready to do whatever the coach tells me to do on the field. For me, a good match is not about the number of points, but about what I did well for the team, whether it was a rebound, a block, or just winning the ball or defending the opponent’s action. The coach sees this and appreciates it. In addition, I have an inner feeling that the second year in the NBA might be easier for me.

After all, I already felt the atmosphere, I kind of knew what was waiting for me. I believe I will be better prepared in many ways for the new season. I also got to know my body better, I know how to take care. I also found for myself the necessary rituals and various tasks to prepare for a large part of the 82 matches of the regular season. Anyway, I want to get regular minutes at Oklahoma and prove that I’m a solid, useful player for the team. Hopefully we can start the season on the right foot and be stronger than last season, so that the final balance is better than just 24 wins.

Despite a valid rookie contract, aren’t you worried about a trade?

The opening of the player market will affect all clubs. It’s hard to predict in advance what the summer trades will bring. If they want to change, I won’t do anything. I understand that in the NBA you can’t think ahead, you can’t be sure of anything and everything.

How is your life in Oklahoma?

I found that the American way of life suited me better than the one I met in Zaragoza. I like to get up early, but in Spain everything is pushed to the last hours. They eat quietly until midnight and then go to bed sometimes around one o’clock. Since there is no competitive sport at the professional league level in Oklahoma, hockey, baseball or American football, fans are grateful and loyal to basketball.

Did you keep your promise to hockey player Radek Faks that you would go see his fight?

Sure, I was in Dallas to see him. The trip by car took over three hours, and I also saw the differences between hockey and basketball culture. But Radek doesn’t have time to visit me, because we didn’t make it to the playoffs, and he has a small child now, so he also has duties as a father. I tried to contact my friends from the Czech Republic, we played against each other through the play station, but I always had to take into account the seven-hour time difference.

How much motivation is the September championship at home for you now?

I’ve missed enough representative events, so I really don’t want to miss the European Championship at home. An injury took me out of the Olympics, last year I probably regretted my absence from the World Championship in China even more, because I was sent home from Asia as the last extra player. After such an experience, I told myself that I don’t want to experience anything like this year.

Especially when there is a big chance for Czech success?

In the last three years, the national team had very good results, but I was always missing by chance. On the other hand, not much is expected of him yet, but things are likely to be different at home. There will be pressure and no one will underestimate us. The mentality of the team must also adapt to this and withstand this situation.

Can you contribute to it?

I strongly believe that I will do well in the NBA Summer League in a month and join the national team in early August. I take it as my own challenge to manage the rapid transition between different styles of basketball abroad and for the national team. But in the end, it’s still the same. Get the ball into the basket and get more points as a team than the opponent.

Will it be a unique experience to play such a big tournament in Prague in front of your own fans?

The championship will also be great for the people. It is true for both players and fans that it is a great shame not to be there. Friends and large sections of the family are already showing strong interest in tickets. Unfortunately, my father probably won’t be able to see the championship with his own eyes, as a professional soldier he is on a mission in Sinai.

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