Nene takes leave of absence for personal medical issue
DENVER -- Nuggets coach George Karl wasn't concerned about when Nene would return. He just wants him back completely healthy.
Nene took an indefinite leave of absence from the team Friday to take care of a personal medical issue. The Nuggets wouldn't elaborate on what was wrong with Nene, who missed 22 games earlier this season after surgery on his left thumb.
"His health, his future, his life is much more important than basketball," Karl said after the Nuggets' 113-103 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Nene issued a statement before the game, saying he was "very upset that I have to put a little delay on being with the team to take care of my health."
"It's hard to go through when things seem to be going so well," he said. "I want to get back on the court as soon as possible to help my teammates."
His teammates were worried about him, too. Nuggets guard Anthony Carter planned on giving him a call as soon as he could.
"It caught everyone by surprise," Carter said of hearing the news. "I'm very concerned."
Karl has experienced a few health scares over the past few years. He was treated for prostate cancer in 2005; his son, Coby, was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma, a form of treatable cancer, in January 2006 and had his thyroid removed three months later; last April, Coby underwent more surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes.
The memory of his battle with cancer still haunts George Karl.
"I went months waking up scared," he said. "At times now, I wake up and there's a tweak and a twinge in the kidney or in my back somewhere, I think it's cancer. I don't think I have a bad back, I think I've got cancer."
Karl said he'll offer Nene any kind of support he needs as he deals with the undisclosed medical issue.
"You don't know what works and what helps in those situations," Karl said. "Sometimes, it's talking about your experiences, sometimes it's sharing some laughter. It comes in different packages. Hopefully, I will have some opportunity to sit down and spend some time with him and talk about this stuff.
"When I had my surgery, it was incredible the support I felt from the organization and also from the fans of Denver, the e-mails and stuff like that," Karl added. "We want him back, need him back, need to get him back, and I think we will get him back."
After the game, Carmelo Anthony said it was tough not seeing Nene on the floor. Nene is averaging 6.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 12 games this season.
"You never want to see a teammate go down like that," Anthony said. "We just have to stay strong for him, whatever the case is, and make sure he knows that the Denver Nuggets and the whole organization has his back."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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