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Brook Lopez: "I'm fully cleared for play and everything"

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Brook Lopez and his brother spent the weekend in Moscow, visiting tourist sites, having lunch with the boss and even giving a clinic to the children of the US embassy. But Lopez made big news in Perm, far to the East, when he was asked about his foot.

"It's great," he told a reporter for RBC, Mikhail Prokhorov's business TV channel. "I was fully cleared for play and everything a week and a half ago. It's great. Now its time to get back in shape." The video was edited and provided to NetsDaily by Alexander Chernykh of Rush'n Hoops,

In a later phone call with Tim Bontemps, Lopez said he was taking things step-by-step after being cleared.

"It’s just been really ramping it up from there. Obviously you don’t start playing games immediately, but it’s been about getting my conditioning back, and getting back into shape.

"I’m not playing basketball, I’m not running sprints or anything like that yet. I’m still building it. I’m cleared. … I can go full-bore, but there’s not any rush."

After surgery to reconstruct his foot in January --and some subsequent ligament "tightening" in his left ankle-- Lopez's recovery has been the Nets' biggest question mark. Can the once dominant big man return to form with essentially a new right foot? Early on, Lopez noted that he had to re-learn to walk with special, custom-made shoes and sneakers.

Over the past few weeks, there have been reports that Lopez is ahead of schedule and front office officials were being cautiously optimistic about his return. Billy King noted last week that Lopez was "doing great" and that his balance was excellent.

In the same RBC interview, Lopez was upbeat about his situation and the team's under Prokhorov.

"I love playing in Brooklyn," he added. "Being drafted in New Jersey, it was a surprise the first time i heard we were going there. But its been the best situation thats possible for me. Ownership has made winning its No. 1 priority and when you have that kind of mentality coming from up top, it trickles down to the rest of the team. You cant help but buy into it."

Similarly, he told Bontemps he had spoken with Lionel Hollins, who he noted is his seventh coach in seven years in the NBA.

"It was good to get to talk to him. We talked about what we expect going into next season, what he expected from me, and I think we’re both excited. I know he expects a lot from his players, and I’m prepared for that."

The Chernykh video also showed the Lopez brothers having a great time re-dedicating a basketball court in Perm, the gateway to Siberia, running a clinic for the youth of the region.