Lakers forward not doing any basketball activities

Updated: August 23, 2005, 5:22 PM ET
SportsTicker

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 untreated.

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

"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."

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