“I feel great,” Parker told ESPN.com during a promotional appearance in Chicago on Thursday. “I tell myself every day I couldn’t be in a better situation because it’s going to make me a great man at the end of the day. It’s going to make me mentally tough and it’s going to help me for the future.”
Parker, 22, initially tore his ACL in December 2014 and is in what figures to be a yearlong rehab process after reinjuring the knee in early February last season. He does not have a return date in mind.
“As of right now, the way I treat my body, it doesn’t have a date,” he said. “I can give you a little piece of information: I’m not the average person with this injury. Obviously I had it once, but I’ve done stuff so far that’s exciting. But most importantly, I want to be able to jump as high, jump higher than I was, be faster than I was. That’s the only way I’ll play again.”
Parker says the mental part of the rehabilitation is more difficult than the physical part.
“It’s definitely mental,” he said. “Especially if it happens to you more than once.
“But actually, me getting hurt the second time has helped me embrace [rehab and recovery] stronger than I did the first one. It gave me that mentality [of] I don’t give a **** no more. Excuse my language, but I just don’t. If it happens [again], it happens. But I’m not going to let that hold me back. And if it happens again, I’m just going to do the same stuff I was before.”
Parker, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, acknowledged that there was a brief moment when he couldn’t believe the injury occurred again.
“For two seconds,” he said. “When I heard the news. When I read over my MRI with the doctor. Two seconds. After that, I was just like, get back to work.”
Parker, who won four high school state titles at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, said he has taken some motivation from watching former NBA MVP and fellow Simeon alum Derrick Rose. The freshly minted Cleveland Cavaliers guard has made his way back from several serious knee injuries of his own.
“He had a great year with the Knicks,” Parker said. “People who know basketball and appreciate him, they give him some type of respect, and that’s just what I want. I don’t have that career that I wanted so far, but what stands out is the respect that I’ll have from overcoming my obstacles.”