Before Wednesday’s game versus the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber joined the Bally Sports Southwest pregame show to give an update on his status. After reports in mid-December indicated Kleber had torn his right hamstring during practice, media and fans braced for the likelihood this would be a season-ending injury.
“I had like a burning pain for a couple of days but I always thought I had gotten kicked”, Kleber explained. “I felt like the muscle roll up in my hamstring and it felt weird. I got an MRI and they said that one part of the tendon that attaches had torn - which is unfortunate.”
It is tough not to grimace upon hearing Kleber describe the injury but it is clear the most challenging part of being away from the court is not being able to help his teammates.
“To give an exact date of when I am going to play is kind of hard because the last path of being able to sprint and change of direction...really the hard part about rehab”. Then Kleber gave the shockingly ambitious timetable of next week before tempering that forecast by saying, “I’m not out for the season...I hope I am going to be back in the next week, preferably before the break but I don’t wanna jinx anything or say anything or make promises but that’s the plan.”
For everyone who feared the Mavericks would be without their defensive lynchpin for the rest of the season, hearing that he plans on returning this season with so much certainty in his voice is reason enough for a fist pump. Learning that he aims to return next week is more than a bit disconcerting given how important Kleber is and how devastating a reinjury would be to his playoff timetable. For now, trusting the medical staff and the player to know his own body during recovery is all Maverick fans can do as they process this very favorable update.
Maxi Kleber is a borderline unicorn in the modern game. A rare set of skills allow him to space the floor, pass out of the high post as a release valve, defensively switch onto most players, and protect the rim. The Mavericks need him back - with a single caveat - not too soon.