Assistant coach and Trail Blazers legend Maurice Lucas returned to practice today after battling bronchial pneumonia for the better part of the last two months. I got a chance to talk to Coach Luke today after his one-on-one workout with Greg Oden. Here's what he had to say.
How are you feeling on your first day back?
Maurice Lucas: I’m feeling OK. A little weak. I haven’t participated in much exercise in the last two weeks or so. It just takes time. I’m going to take my time getting back, make sure I’m right before I get fully committed. It’s just one of those things where you’ve just got to take your time. I’m not getting any younger, so I’ve got to make sure everything is just right before I come back. Pneumonia is something you just don’t play with.
What exactly was your diagnosis?
Maurice Lucas: They call it bronchial pneumonia, so it was down in my lungs. How you catch it? Who knows? I was doing a lot of traveling -- I went to a couple of different countries and around the states -- and I just got caught.
It takes you out. It totally takes you out. It takes away your muscle movement and your breathing ability. It’s one of those processes that you have to go through the meds and take your time and get a lot of rest and drink a lot of liquids. It’s just a matter of time now.
How does it feel to finally be back with the team?
Maurice Lucas: It was good. You can bore yourself to death too! There’s a couple way’s you can die: You can die physically or you can bore yourself to death and I was getting close to the bored side. But I’m smart enough and mature enough to know that I have to take my time.
Did being sick and away from the team give you a chance to view team differently?
Maurice Lucas: Actually it did. It game me an opportunity to watch all the games; not only our team but all different teams and get a better perspective as to who was playing what and how they were playing different guys. How they were playing us prior to us playing them. It gave me a different scouting capacity. As far as our team, it gave me an opportunity to really look at each individual as a player and how they play. That was good for me.
You were working with Greg a lot before you got sick. What have you thought about his performance so far this season?
Maurice Lucas: He’s coming. He’s just got to understand the fact that he’s a big man and he’s got to play like a big man. He’s got to increase his aggressiveness in a positive way. He’s got to get meaner and tougher around the basket. He’s a tough kid, don’t get me wrong, but he’s just got to get aggressive like (Dwight) Howard and (Chris) Bosh and guys of that size that are under there battling. Once he does that, whoo, Katy bar the door, because he’s got all the tools. It’s just a matter of him learning the game, learning different defenses that guys are throwing at him, technique on how to get himself wide open. He’s going to be OK. I’ve got big hopes for him.