The Charlotte Bobcats could see two of their most important components back in action as early as tonight against the Atlanta Hawks after coach Steve Clifford suffered heart concerns days ago and Al Jefferson's been resting for weeks after re-aggravating a right ankle sprain.
Clifford was hospitalized overnight last Thursday night after suffering chest pains. He would be admitted to Presbyterian Hospital and have two stents placed in his heart. In his stead, the Bobcats gave assistant coach Patrick Ewing the acting coach's duties against the New York Knicks.
Jefferson, who originally injured his right ankle in a preseason game against the Miami Heat, played the first game of the season and re-aggravated the ankle sprain. He's rested ever since as the team's got off to an up-and-down start, gathering a few wins and a couple losses since the first game.
As for the risk of Jefferson's return, Jefferson himself is fine leaving it up to Clifford, though he feels he's better than how he was at the beginning of the season.
"I think I proved I can go, but it's not about one game and relapsing. I think I'm in a better position that I was."
"I don't want to play one game, then sit out another two weeks," Jefferson said. "When I come back, I want to come back to stay."
As for Clifford, he probably knew that taking on the challenge of being the fourth Bobcats coach in four years wasn't for the faint of heart, he undoubtedly didn't expect this. However, catching something this soon is a blessing, and he knows it.
I was fortunate in that, by other standards, what happened to me was mild," Clifford said. "What I've been told is a few months from now, if it had continued (untreated), it could have been a lot worse.
All told, after one of their worst losses of the season so far, the Bobcats could make one of their biggest bounce-backs with their head coach and big-talent big men against an in-division opponent.