Pistons Thunder Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson, left, passes around Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson, right, in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Detroit won 99-98. 

Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

OKLAHOMA CITY — January ended poorly for the Robersons.

The obvious reason occurred Jan. 27, when Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson ruptured his patellar tendon during the third quarter of an eventual win in Detroit. Roberson underwent surgery not long after. But his family didn't need to make the trip from San Antonio. They were already in Oklahoma City, because of what happened a couple of days prior.

Roberson’s younger brother, Anthony, a student and basketball player locally at the University of Central Oklahoma, had suffered a meniscus injury. The rest of the Robersons had come up for support. Then, Andre went down.

Two days, two left knees for two brothers.

“The funny thing is, I was joking with him about it. Like, ‘Yo! You hurt!’ And then boom, two days later, it happened to me,” Roberson said. “So, we kind of laughed about that in our own way. But it was kind of crazy for our family, kind of a whirlwind.”

The Thunder defensive stopper has spent his weeks since trying to rehab an injury that will keep him out — at best — for months. He says he had never before dealt with an injury serious enough to keep him off the floor for more than a few weeks.

He met with reporters Wednesday for the first time since suffering the season-ending injury, limping over to a group of about 15 media members while wearing a big, secured brace on his left knee. Unable to bend his leg because of the brace and propped up on a stool, he smiled. 

“Don’t mind my posture,” he said, trying to position himself so that his tightened, straight leg didn’t force him into a slouch.

The Thunder have gone out of their way to keep Roberson engaged. He’s watched film sessions from that position. He’s conferred, specifically, with newest Thunder wing, Corey Brewer, on the team’s defensive schemes. 

Paul George calls back to his 2014-15 season, when he missed all but six games after breaking his leg before the start of the season. He remembers how then Indiana coach Frank Vogel went out of his way to involve him in team events and preparation. 

Steven Adams, who Roberson described Wednesday as “my buddy since day one,” has discussed wanting to keep Roberson a part of the team, too.

“I’m doing everything I can to stay involved,” Roberson said. “Being around the guys just makes me feel not alone, because a lot of time, I’m alone, four walls, by myself, doing rehab with someone one-on-one.”

Thunder coach Billy Donovan has done the same.

“It’s just talking to him. It’s having him here in the practice facility,” Donovan said. “The hard part is when there’s that disconnect, so to speak…The game’s going on, he’s not even out there, because he can’t sit on the bench. You pick up and you go on a road trip, and he’s by himself. I think those are the hard parts. 

“So the biggest thing is, when we’re here in the building, to really try to fully engage him in what we’re doing.”

Roberson's rehab process remains nowhere near aggressive yet.

“It’s kind of like the foundation stage, just letting everything kind of heal right away,” he said. “I do slow bends, little quad contractions, kind of keep it alive. Keep the muscle going.”

When it gets there, it will be with his brother, who isn’t recovering from as serious an injury but who does spend much of his time at Andre’s house. The two have always been close. Now, they have this extra element to share.

Of course, you can bet they wish they had anything else in common.

"We’re firm believers in, everything happens for a reason. And later life, we’ll find out why. But we’re just sticking through it together," Roberson said. "It’s kinda like my rehab partner. We’re kind of battling each other. Who can heal faster? So, it’s been — it’s cool I can go through it with him."

Fred Katz is the Thunder beat writer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as well as the host of the postgame show, Thunder After Dark, and the OKC Dream Team, a weekly Thunder podcast that runs every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.


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