Nerlens Noel hadn’t talked to the local media since Sept. 27, but the 76ers center was optimistic in his first comments since then about his recovery.
Speaking for the first time since the Sixer media day, Noel talked about the frustration, but also about the progress he has made since March 12, 2013 surgery for a torn left ACL that he suffered the previous month while competing for the University of Kentucky.
“I am very encouraged,” Noel said after the Sixers practice at PCOM. “Through the past year since I had my injury, I have pushed myself through thick and thin and I had some struggles and I just stayed with it.”
He sees all the hours of work paying off.
“I definitely feel I worked my butt off to get where I am at now and definitely feel confident I am at my best point and have increased my vertical leap and I have just built building up my body though this past year,” he said.
The Sixers have five games left and if it were up to Noel, he’d be on the court, but he said he understands the Sixers approach.
“Obviously I do want to play,” he said.
That likely won’t happen.
“I have been asked that question so many times,” coach Brett Brown said. “I think the later it gets, the more unlikely it is.”
When Noel tweeted 4-4-14, he admits that was the date he wanted to play, when the Sixers were in Boston.
“It was definitely a goal of mine to come back and be cleared by the Sixers by then and I was not, so that is that,” Noel said.
The Sixers haven’t said for sure whether they will compete in one or more summer leagues. Either way, Noel’s first action will almost certainly come in some summer league competition.
“It is going to be a great summer," Noel said. “I am putting in a lot of work this summer and bring my game along and keep working and working.”