Lakers forward not doing any basketball activities

Los Angeles Lakers forward Ronny Turiaf, who underwent a heart operation last month, may not miss his rookie
season after all.

Turiaf, 22, has resumed training at his alma mater of Gonzaga
University, where he is participating in light physical
activities such as cycling. On July 26, he had an operation to
repair an aortic problem which could have been fatal if left

The problem was found by American doctors after Turiaf was
chosen in the second round by the Lakers and signed a two-year

"My body was asking me to play basketball, but for now I don't
run and I don't shoot," Turiaf told French sports publication
L'Equipe. "I take my time because my heart is still beating
very fast when I make a physical effort.

"But I am confident and determined to show everyone that a
player can come back from a heart operation. I will play
basketball again."

Before the operation, there were some fears Turiaf might not
play again. Other doctors estimated his recovery time between
six and 12 months.

"There is nothing surprising for me," he said. "Three days
after the operation, I walked 10 steps in my hospital bedroom
and the next day I did 12. Then I started walking in the
corridors with the help of my mother and the nurses. I am very
well supported."

Turiaf will undergo further medical examinations in early
November, just after the start of the regular season. If the
results are positive, he could join the Lakers later that month
and gradually resume training with them throughout December.

When he was drafted, the 6-foot-10 Turiaf was just under 250 pounds and believed to need an additional 10 to 12 pounds to be an effective NBA power forward. The operation has set him back in that regard.

"I feel fine, even if I am still very tired and too thin," he
said. "I lost 11 kilos [25 pounds]. The pain I felt after the
operation has gone. Before it was like something wanted to come
out of my chest. I always had to stay on my back.

"Now it's a bit painful in the morning when I wake up, but I
don't take any painkillers anymore. I was so scared not to be
able to play basketball again that seeing how well I have
recovered makes me feel very happy."

Turiaf sounds as if he fully intends to play this season.

"I have never been so motivated in my life," he said. "I feel I
am back already."