I’ve been working out at full strength for a while now, and I’m ready to show people again that I know how to bounce back from an injury.

I got cleared by the doctors at the end of August, and it’s been full steam ahead ever since. Right now, I’m just waiting to hear from a team. I’ve been through this process before. I’m just staying prepared to get that phone call.

A lot of teams just look at the injury, and question if I’m healthy or not, which is understandable. I had the opportunity to work out for San Antonio, Houston and Minnesota last month, and none of them said anything negative about my performance, which I think is a good thing. From what my agent said, everyone thought I moved a whole lot better this year than last year, so that was a great compliment in itself.

I think that’s a credit to how hard I’ve worked, and how I’ve been about staying on top of it. From day one when I got hurt, I knew what I had to do to get to this point and be ready for training camp. I accomplished that goal. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get picked up for the start of camp, but I’ll keep trucking away. Last year, I got that phone call. Hopefully, it will come a little bit earlier this year.

In the meantime, I’m at a point in my career where I don’t mind working out on my own. There’s a little more freedom to it. Instead of having to go to practice and watch others participate and then go to rehab, I can go rehab and then go play ball and then see my kids. I definitely want to be on an NBA team, but it’s cool to have that freedom for now. I just have to be accountable for myself and make sure I do the workouts I need to do.

One big difference this time around has been the ability to play pick up games. When I worked out for San Antonio, I played pick up with them, and I felt I played great. Last year, I was just staying in the gym and I wasn’t really being able to play pickup ball, which made it harder to stay in game shape.

Being able to do that helps me keep my cardio up, and I think that will be important for when I do get picked up by a team. If I can go in and show them that I’m in game shape, I think it will surprise them. So when I’m out there on the court now, I do a lot of cardio in my workout. I’m looking to be able to come in like I never missed a step.

As I go through workouts, I obviously have to take my breaks here and there because coming off that type of injury, you don’t want to push it too hard. But I’ve been able to go 100 percent every day that I’ve worked out. Because I’ve had this injury before, I know when I have to take some time off, and that even if I do, I still have to keep my strength up. So even if I take a day off from the basketball court, I’ll be in the weight room building my stamina.

There are no ill effects as far as the mental part of the game. I’m definitely confident in my knee. During this process, you also have to build trust in it, and I was able to do that when I had my camp for kids back at the end of July. I did a 360 dunk before I was even cleared yet. I know I’m ready to go, now it’s time to find the opportunity.

GIVING BACK

Throughout this process, I’ve also been working on some outside projects that I plan on doing after basketball. There’s a lot of excitement in it and hopefully it goes well.

I’ve been doing a lot of work through my foundation recently with Autism Speaks. I think the awareness of autism is something that needs to be put out there a little bit more. Working with Autism Speaks down in Dallas has been a great resource for making people aware. Earlier in the year, I teamed up with them for a bowling event, and I’ve put together a team for a walk they’re doing this weekend.

I have an older cousin who has autism, and I’ve been around her pretty much all my life, so I’ve seen the adversity that she’s had to deal with and what her family has been through. A lot of autistic kids are very bright kids and people just don’t realize it. There is this stigma put on them like they don’t know what’s going on, but a lot of them do know and a lot of them know a lot more than the average person knows. So I think it’s important to get that message out there to help them any way we can.

I’ve also sponsored an event for Winston Salem State’s homecoming this weekend. A lot of my family members went there, so despite being a Wake Forest alum, I have no problem helping the other university in the city as well.

LOOKING BACK

Wake Forest recently put me into their Sports Hall of Fame and I’m still kind of taking in what that means to me.

It was a great honor, as well as an opportunity to sit back and reflect on the things that I’ve accomplished. To say that I’ve been put into a Hall of Fame at the age of 33 is an accomplishment in itself.

An honor like that also lets me know that people really do pay attention to what I do outside of basketball and that brings a lot of joy to me. I look at the things that I do in the community as something I want to do and I’m never looking to gain recognition for it. But it’s amazing to think about. Who ever would have thought a skinny kid from Winston Salem, North Carolina would be able to do so many things for his own city, let alone other cities?

honor

I’m just so thankful that I had coaches who pushed me and other people around me who pushed me. It means a lot to me because if it wasn’t for basketball, none of those other avenues would have been open.

Receiving that honor from Wake drives me to keep going, but it also makes me realize once again how blessed I am. Just thinking about my NBA career: I haven’t won a championship, but I made it to the Finals. To have that experience in itself means a lot because guys go through their whole careers and don’t even make it to the Finals.

As I begin a new chapter, I want to thank you all for continuing to show me the love and support that you have throughout the years. I have a little surprise: I finally got an Instagram account, and you can follow me @JoshHowardFoundation. I don’t know a lot about it just yet, but I’m very excited about it, so follow me and I’ll be posting a lot of stuff having to do with basketball and my foundation.