New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson, who suffered a serious cervical spine injury last season that resulted in surgery, posted Wednesday on Instagram that he has been cleared for full participation with the team.
“I’m cleared for contact!” he said. “After 8 mos out, I can finally play again. Thank you God!”
Anderson, 25, posted on his account pictures on a computer screen of X-rays of his surgically repaired vertebrae.
He suffered two herniated disks in his neck during a collision with Boston Celtics forward Gerald Wallace on Jan. 3 at TD Garden in Boston. The injury threatened to end Anderson’s career, and he was taken from the court on a stretcher.
After rest and conventional treatments were not sufficient, Anderson had surgery on April 8 in Los Angeles, performed by Dr. Robert Watkins. At the time, the Pelicans said Anderson would be able to resume basketball activities in four to six months.
He rejoined the Pelicans for workouts Aug. 25 and said on Aug. 27 that he was healed. On Tuesday, at the unveiling of a statue honoring Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, Anderson said the only thing he hadn’t done was participate in pick-up games and the full contact that entails.
“I should be ready for training camp,” he said Tuesday. “That’s the plan. I’ve been working out with the guys, but I can’t play competitive basketball, yet.
“When I got cleared to do a little bit more, I got some physical therapy in. I’ve been running. Haven’t been able to lift weights until this past month, so I’ve been in the gym a lot trying to prepare my body. So I’m doing everything that the other guys are doing with the exception of playing.”
When Anderson was injured, he was the Pelicans’ leading scorer at 19.8 points in 22 games, playing 36 minutes per game off the bench in a super-sixth-man role. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds, shot 40.9 percent on 3-point shots and 95.2 on free throws. Teammate Brian Roberts, who became the starting point guard when Jrue Holiday became injured, won the NBA’s free-throw shooting title at 95.0 percent because he played enough games to be eligible for the title.
Anderson’s injury was the first of three in 18 days that rocked the Pelicans and curtailed their expected run at a playoff spot.
Holiday came down with a stress fracture in his right knee on Jan. 10, and starting center Jason Smith was lost with a knee injury on Jan. 18. All three players were lost for the season.
Training camp begins Sept. 30, and the Pelicans’ first preseason game is Oct. 4 in Louisville, Kentucky, against the Miami Heat. New Orleans opens the regular season at home against the Orlando Magic, Anderson’s former team.