INDIANAPOLIS – The night before the sports world came to a screeching halt, Victor Oladipo had just looked like his old self.
In what is the last time we saw the Pacers take the floor, Oladipo scored a season-high 27 points in a home loss to the Celtics.
He tied his season-high in playing 28 minutes, going 9-of-16 from the floor, 5-of-7 from behind the arc, scoring 20 points for the first time since returning from a torn quad tendon (13 games played).
It was vintage Oladipo, looking like the All-NBA talent that he believes he will be again.
Of all the players on the Pacers roster, such an abrupt end (for now) to the season especially crushed Oladipo.
But, ever the optimist, Oladipo has never been one to let such an emotion dictate how he reacts to it.
“It hurt, period,” Oladipo said of the COVID-19 situation stopping the NBA back on March 11. “Because it took me a while to come back from the injury, and obviously this happened and you miss some more. At the end of the day, I was out there playing to the best that I can, going as hard as I can, but to say I was 100 percent out there, I don’t know if I can say that, obviously coming off the injury and stuff like that.
“You have to control what you can control. I have no control over COVID-19. I have no control over what’s going on right now, but I have control over my mentality. Even though there are limitations, there are still ways I can still get better. Being able to find ways out of those limitations is how you separate yourself. That’s what I’m going to focus on doing.”
Oladipo has turned his garage into a weight room and used his private gym to still make sure he’s getting the necessary basketball work and rehab in during this now month-long break, with 17 games left on the regular season schedule.
During those 13 games Oladipo had played in 2020, he had flashes of looking like his old self, but as he admitted, that normal explosiveness was not all the way there.
Hence, why Oladipo admits there are positives from this break.
“I think it was great for me because it gave me a chance to get my tendon used to playing again and used to the game,” the hopeful guard says of his return. “Everything happens for a reason, so I could look at it as, ‘Dang, I was just getting my rhythm back or my flow going.’ Or I could be optimistic and look at it as an opportunity to rest and still have an opportunity to continue to build strength in my tendon, let the body be able to heal naturally.
“There’s a lot of pros and cons to it. You just have to be optimistic about the situation you are in because how you get out of it defines you.”
The soon-to-be 28-year-old could be entering a very uncertain summer/fall depending on how the rest of the season plays out.
Currently, Oladipo is signed through the 2020-21 season.
How would a potential season cancellation or shortening impact potential contract extension talks?
That elephant in the room is put on hold until the NBA makes a decision on the rest of this year.
It’s not ideal, but not much has been for Oladipo over the past year plus.
“I have a chance to still rehab and do the things that I need for my tendon and for my knee,” Oladipo reiterates. “Even though I can’t play, I’m still finding a way to work. Everyday I’m working out at a really high level. Every day I have to stay in shape because there’s a chance that our season will resume, so I’ve always got to stay ready. There are some things that I’ve been doing lately that I haven’t really done too much. I do it a little bit during the year, but now it’s on a different level because I have so much time, a lot more time.
“I don’t know when we’re coming back or if we are or if we aren’t. But I’ll be ready for either one, for sure.”
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