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Metta World Peace wanted to return early from injury to help teammates

April 09, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Metta World Peace is primed for an early return from knee surgery.
Metta World Peace is primed for an early return from knee surgery. (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

Metta World Peace will come off the bench for the Lakers Tuesday night as they host the New Orleans Hornets, just 12 days after undergoing knee surgery to repair torn cartilage.

The Lakers probably need to win the rest of their games to surpass the Utah Jazz for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We're in a tough spot," said World Peace, who is rushing back from injury weeks ahead of schedule. "It's a good spot, but it's a tough spot."

While the team's original timeline was at least six weeks, he had other ideas.

"Even if I can come in and give five minutes for somebody — five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever — give Kobe [Bryant] a breather," said World Peace on why he pushed to return.

"You know Kobe, he's played through gunshot wounds," joked the veteran forward.

Taking to the Internet, World Peace did his own research to determine what the fastest time anyone had returned from a similar procedure.

"I heard about the surgery ... I went online," he said. "I read a week. I'm like, 'Oh, then I'm the week kind of guy.' "

World Peace can't cite his source, and while accuracy on the Internet can be shaky, he seemed satisfied.

"It was documented," he said assuredly.

World Peace insists he would have returned even earlier if the Lakers would have let him.

"It would have been less than that," he said. "If I'm ready, let's go. If I can help my team, let's do it. Nobody here is trying to go home early, I'll tell you that."

The Lakers were on the road after World Peace's surgery. He started to rehab the next day after consulting with the team's trainer Gary Vitti and head physical therapist Judy Seto.

"I had to call Gary and Judy, 'What do I have to do?' "

When they told him to wait until they got back from the Lakers' road trip, he replied, "No, I'm not waiting. Tell me what to do so I can be ready to play."

More importantly, World Peace felt healthy. He was encouraged after talking with surgeon Dr. Steve Lombardo.

"He was like, 'your knee is better shape than every guy I've ever seen,' " relayed World Peace.  "That's what gave me the confidence to come back and play."

The Lakers may have to win all five of their remaining games if they want to advance to the playoffs. World Peace will come off the bench in his return.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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