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Chris Wilcox: ‘This is a blessing for me even to be here’

07.14.12 at 2:29 pm ET


WALTHAM — Among teammates, coaches and even owner Stephen Pagliuca, Chris Wilcox is known to be a fun-loving man.

So, it was with great humor and appreciation that Pagliuca listened to Wilcox tell him recently that if only he had been able to play against Miami, things might have turned out differently for the Celtics.

“It’ll be even more special to have all these guys on board and we’ll win that seventh game against Miami this year,” Pagliuca said with a smile and chuckle. “Chris said he would’ve made the difference and I think he was right.”

It was no laughing matter in March when Wilcox became the second Celtics player in three months to undergo heart surgery after being diagnosed with a heart irregularity.

He was officially waived by the Celtics on March 23, but like with Jeff Green, who had heart valve surgery two months earlier, there was an unwritten agreement that the team would offer him a contract once he was medically cleared to resume basketball activity. Saturday was that time, as Wilcox, a much-needed veteran big man in the C’s front court, was formally re-introduced in a press conference at the team’s practice facility.

“I’m good. I’m back now. I’m full contact,” Wilcox said. “I can do everything, lifting weights, just to a minimum though, lifting weights. Everything else, I’m back and I’m ready.

“By training camp, I’ll definitely be full-go. I’ve been working hard all summer, trying to get back right, being prepared and it’s going along well.”

What’s been the biggest challenge of training since heart surgery?

“Cardio. Your cardio, your wind,” Wilcox said. “You have to re-train your whole body over again after surgery like that. So, I think the main thing for me is the my cardio so I’ve just been running, trying to get my wind up. That’s the main thing right now.

“This is a blessing,” Wilcox continued. “This is a blessing for me even to be here right now. So, I’m just going to take full advantage of all my situations and all the opportunities that have been coming my way. And it’s a blessing to come back to a team and be able to pick up where I left off.

“I thought everything was good. Ten years in the league and then all of sudden, you have to have heart surgery, it’s just tough. Now, it’s just a blessing that [doctors] found what they found when they found it so now I can just move forward with my life and my career.”

Wilcox now has competition, at least in camp, with the drafting of Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger.

“Whatever it is for me to do, I just want to come back in shape and be ready. For whatever Doc has for me, I want to be prepared and ready for,” Wilcox said of his desire to work again with coach Doc Rivers. “It is what it is. Just come in and play hard. Whatever it is that’s in the way, we just pray about it and move it out of the way. Everything, all of us getting healthy is better. With everybody getting healthy and on the same page, everything will fall in place.”

As for his words to Pagliuca, Wilcox said it was mostly intended to be tongue-in-cheek, though there was some truth to it.

“Sometimes, when I was home, I was just looking at the game and you just see so many places you can help the team and it’s just frustrating that you can’t get out there,” Wilcox said. “I was just talking [and joking] that I could help and do this or that but who knows what the outcome could’ve been.

“I think this is going to be a great opportunity and I think Danny [Ainge] and the guys did a great job of putting a good team together, and with Jeff coming back, that definitely will help us. Even if we had [Avery Bradley] in Game 7, that would’ve helped us, too.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Chris Wilcox, Fab Melo
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