Jul 29, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Brazil center Nene Hilaro (13) during the men's basketball preliminary against Australia during the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
While I cannot discredit Nene for wanting to play for his country in the 2012 Olympics, I, along with other Wizards fans, was concerned that his foot injury that caused him to miss games following his midseason trade to the Wizards was not fully healed. It looks like those concerns have cropped up again after Brazil's tournament-opening win over Australia on Sunday.
In an interview with reporters following the game, Nene admitted that his plantar fasciitis has become a problem again. Via Rick Maese of the Washington Post:
Nene walked with a slight limp after the game. The plantar fasciitis that bothered him at times last season has flared up, he said.
"When the ball goes up, I forget about that, though," Nene said.
That may explain why Nene is coming off the bench in the Olympics, though the depth of the Brazilian frontcourt plays a big role as well.
In any event, this is definitely something Wizards fans should be monitoring throughout the Olympics.
Given that Nene had to skip other international competitions due to contract stuff and other NBA obligations, I feel uncomfortable suggesting to him that he can't play in the Olympics. This is Brazil's best shot to medal, and it's his best opportunity to help them. However, there's also not very much time to rest between the end of the tournament and the beginning of next season. There's a decent chance that Nene could take this foot injury into next year, which would mean he could miss some games. More activity isn't exactly going to help him.
The good news is that the Wizards have a pretty deep frontcourt in the event that Nene misses action. However, Nene is one of the major catalysts of this rebuild. He's the unselfish guy that throws his body around inside so others can grab rebounds. He's the screen-setter that frees shooters for jumpers. He's the post option when nothing else is working offensively. In short, this team is much, much better when Nene is playing than when he isn't.
Perhaps Nene's limited minutes will limit the strain on his foot, which will keep him healthier once November rolls around. I say that because the only way Nene is going to sit at this point is if the injury gets much, much worse. As long as he's just playing through manageable pain, he's going to play.
That leaves Wizards fans to cross their fingers and hope for the best.