Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young was listed as a starter a day ahead of the team’s Dec. 11 preseason opener against the Houston Rockets.
That morning he woke up expecting to play in the first game of his 14th year in the league. But as he was speaking to reporters, his left leg was hit with a numbing sensation. Noticing the ailment throughout the week, he figured it was “just a nick,” per NBC Sports’ Rob Schaefer.
“If you notice, I was a little fidgety,” Young said in his most recent press briefing. “My leg started to go a little numb. And it just kind of swelled up on me. I told (Bulls head athletic trainer) Todd (Campbell), ‘Yo, I need to go to the hospital and get this checked out.’ ”
When Young arrived to the United Center, he said his leg had swelled even further, causing a considerable amount of pain — even through the numbness. A group of doctors identified his ailment was MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a staph infection that once threatened the career of Grant Hill.
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Young Rushed to the Hospital on the Eve of the Preseason
Young recalled his doctor at the hospital grabbing several other doctors to look at his leg, a sign of the severity of the infection.
“At first I wasn’t scared at all,” Young said. “Until I got to the hospital and I seen my (swollen) leg, and then I seen, like, she went and got three or four of the doctors. Usually when they go get three or four of the doctors and get them in the room with you, then something’s wrong. Like, really wrong. So, that’s when I started to get a little worried about it.”
MRSA is resistant to antibiotics and can quickly become a blood or bone infection. Roughly 130,000 Americans are infected every year while 5,000 die from it annually. Sports facilities have been a petri dish for the spreading of the bacteria because of the practice of sharing equipment and skin-to-skin contact.
Fortunately, Young’s infection was caught early and it simply took draining the infection to stop the swelling and pain.
“Thank God we caught it super early. Just been dealing with it, trying to get myself back,” he said. “It’s healing well now. I just got cleared to start doing some kind of activity, whether it’s like getting on the bike or a light run and shooting. I’ve been doing upper body lifts. Hopefully I can start doing lower leg stuff soon.”
No Timeline for Young’s Return
Young missed all four games in the preseason and is expected to miss Wednesday’s regular-season opener against the Atlanta Hawks.
“There will probably be some sort of ramp-up period for [Young], so to speak, in terms of he’s missed some conditioning and a lot of practice,” Billy Donovan said. “He was dealing with a hamstring right around the time we started training camp. We’ll have to work to get him back. He’s a veteran guy, a smart guy, but most importantly just his health. He’s doing a lot better just based on where he was a week or 10 days ago.”
The Bulls had intended to throttle Otto Porter Jr.’s minutes entering the season, but without Young, Porter will likely see considerable minutes along with rookie Patrick Williams, who started in the final preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
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