After being diagnosed with renal cell cancer, the retired Nets guard returned to the floor in less than two months. Caris LeVert’s spectacular early-season deal took a more dramatic turn.
During the physical required to seal the January deal that sent him to the Pacers, Renal Cell Carcinoma of the Kidney was discovered. LeVert expressed gratitude to the trade for unquestionably saving his life.
After recovering from surgery and rehab, eVert returned to the floor to make his debut with his new team against the Phoenix Suns.
Nate Bjorkgren, the Pacers’ coach, did not hold back LeVert. Instead, he immediately put him in the starting lineup.
He did it, confirming that he would not be limited minutes before the game.
The strategy paid off as LeVert scored 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 27 minutes as Indiana defeated Phoenix 122-11, snapping the Suns’ five-game winning streak.
LeVert, who hadn’t played in an NBA game since Jan. 12, admitted afterward that he had “heavy legs” but was glad to be back in action.
LeVert: “What I’ve been through in the past couple of months, it’s just a blessing to be out here on the court playing the game I love.” #AlwaysGame pic.twitter.com/UpujbR6UwV
— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) March 14, 2021
“I didn’t think I would be here a month ago, particularly this soon after all that happened,” LeVert said. “There’s definitely a level of gratefulness. Man, I’m just glad to be on the court.”
LeVert was acquired by Indiana as part of the four-team mega-trade that brought previous Kia MVP James Harden to Brooklyn.
He began his career with the Nets, where he spent four and a half seasons. And he shifted after being selected by the Pacers in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft.
Former All-Star Victor Oladipo and forward T.J. Warren, who is out indefinitely following surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, was expected to help the Pacers’ wing rotation.
Following Saturday’s victory, the Pacers (17-20) are ranked ninth in the Eastern Conference. A half-game ahead of 11th-place Chicago for a spot in the play-in tournament.
“A trade of this magnitude saved his life.” @Dennis3DScott discusses Caris LeVert’s return to the court. pic.twitter.com/WzMeVd0zOe
— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 14, 2021