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How Spencer Dinwiddie overcame ... from injury to being unappreciated

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

By now, it’s an oft told tale, how Spencer Dinwiddie became the player he is today, but the story usually starts when he’s traded by the Pistons, cut by the Bulls or down in the D (now G) League.

But in his inaugural piece for The Athletic New York, Nets beat writer Mike Scotto goes back to Dinwiddie’s junior year at Colorado where he and the Buffaloes were riding high. The kid who passed on Harvard because he thought he wouldn’t get the attention he needed went down hard in Pac-12 conference game at Washington.

Surgery followed and reading Scott’s account, you’d think you were re-reading accounts of Shaun Livingston’s famous injury. He hadn’t just torn his ACL. There was an issue with an MCL as well.

Dinwiddie describes his post-surgery talk with his doctors.

“(Doctors) are like, ‘Yeah, Spencer, your lateral meniscus was shredded, we decided to repair it because we felt like that was pretty much going to be your only option of having a legitimate, long career. Or else, we pretty much would’ve had to take out the whole thing. Your medial meniscus was pretty messed up too, so we repaired that as well. Your MCL was torn, but don’t worry about that piece. And, to top it all off, the ACL repair went great, though. We actually cut out a larger portion of your patella tendon than normal because you had tendinitis throughout and we were able to cut out your tendon and flip the graft and drill it in.’”

The diagnosis was he’d miss a calendar year. A junior, Dinwiddie could have returned to Boulder, but instead decided to declare for the 2014 NBA Draft, crutches and all. He didn’t go lottery or first round but 38th to Detroit. They had liked what they saw in him, liked what they heard from him and his surgeons. He was back on the court in 10 months.

Then, Scotto writes, Dinwiddie had “one of the crazier rehab experiences” ...

He switched to a mostly vegan diet and ate basically vegetables and fruit every meal to stay as fit as possible while on crutches for seven weeks. Rehab also included weekly Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for the first three weeks followed by a month of three-hour hyperbaric chamber visits four times a week.

The rest is the story we’re all familiar with, but he notes the injury, the rehab ... and playing behind Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings, two talented if mercurial point guards. Dinwiddie thinks that absent all that, you’d have seen what you see now a little earlier. (That’s okay with Nets fans.)

“I think if I didn’t get hurt you would’ve just saw this Spencer probably two years ago. Now granted, I’m better than I was when I was 22, but at the end of the day, you’re starting to see the guy who had a team. I was in that late first, the 20s or late teens range, but like I’ve said many times, I don’t believe anybody can stop me. If you put me in a workout with all these other folks, I was going to win that.”

Still, Dinwiddie is grateful things worked out. He thinks he’s in a good position with the Nets and next weekend, he’ll get a chance to show off his skills on the national stage at the Taco Bell Skills Competition at All-Star Weekend in L.A., his hometown.

“In every situation in life, I’ve chosen to take that path and figure a way through, around, over, or however you go through the wall, but we’re getting past the f—— wall. I don’t believe in failure. We’re going to make it happen. Through hell or high water, we’re going to make that s— happen. I think that’s probably why I’m still f—— here, honestly. Hopefully, I’ve got my whole prime to go.”

Good luck, kid.