Hoiberg's Mind on Heart Surgery Recovery, Not Basketball
Jul 14, 3:00 AM (ET)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Fred Hoiberg's recovery from heart surgery has been both scary and sobering.

The Minnesota Timberwolves guard has been told he should be able to play basketball again, but that doesn't mean the 10-year veteran will choose to.

"As far as my playing career goes, I'll be honest with you - these last couple weeks, it hasn't ever entered my mind," said Hoiberg, who held a news conference Wednesday at Target Center to discuss his condition as he continues to recover from an operation to correct an enlarged aortic root in his heart.

The surgery was performed June 28 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester by Dr. Hartzell Schaff. The root, where the artery meets the heart's aortic valve, had a bulge in it. It was removed and replaced with a synthetic one.

Hoiberg, a valuable reserve who led the NBA in 3-point accuracy last season for the Timberwolves, was fitted with a permanent pacemaker last week. The device might lengthen the recovery time, but shouldn't prevent him from playing again if his body responds correctly.

The day after the pacemaker was installed, Hoiberg had a big setback. Feeling weak and nauseous and struggling to breathe properly, he collapsed and fell face down in his Twin Cities area home - cutting his chin on the floor.

His wife, Carol, called 911 and he regained consciousness shortly before paramedics arrived. After checking into the hospital that night, doctors discovered an abnormal amount of fluid - about 1 liter, compared with the usual tablespoon - built up around his heart. That probably prevented blood from flowing freely to his head and prompted him to pass out.

"I'm lucky that I'm young and in shape or else I would've been in trouble," said Hoiberg, who looked pale and weak but smiled while he spoke and answered questions for more than 20 minutes.

Hoiberg has to hang around the house for the next two months, not allowed to lift anything heavier than 5 pounds. Because of the pacemaker, he's also prohibited from lifting his left arm above his head.

The limitations are frustrating for Hoiberg, a father of four, but it's given him perspective, too.

"It's been such a tough ordeal ... playing really wasn't very important to me," he said. "Seeing my kids is important.

"Now I'm starting to feel a little bit better. And I'm sure as training camp approaches my competitive juices will start flowing a little bit, and I'll want to get back out there. But I'm going to have to take my time with this process."

That's just fine with the Timberwolves. Vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale has told Hoiberg he'll have a spot in the organization if he doesn't resume playing.

"We want him back as a basketball player first, but Lord forbid, if something happened to him he doesn't have to worry," coach Dwane Casey said.

I'm glad he's doing all right now, but that had to be scary! I wouldn't like having a permanent pacemaker, but I it beats the other option all to heck!