By playing through pain, Anthony Edwards sets a tone of toughness for Timberwolves
Edwards and Jaylen Nowell are the only Wolves to have played in every game this season
MINNEAPOLIS — Anthony Edwards had no intention of playing last Sunday in Houston. The guard missed most of the second half of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ prior game against the Clippers with hip soreness that had nagged him for some time. Surely, a game off would do him some good.
He told reporters after the Clippers’ victory that he likely would not take the floor against the Rockets.
Yet, when push came to shove, he couldn’t get himself to sit out. A similar situation arose Wednesday in Detroit. The hip again bothered Edwards late in the first half against the Pistons, to the point where Edwards was ruled out for the game during the break.
But with Minnesota falling well behind in the third frame, Edwards changed course and decided to give it a go.
Heading into Saturday’s contest against Cleveland, Edwards had yet to miss a game this season — he and Jaylen Nowell are the only Timberwolves players who had played all 43 contests.
That matters, according to Wolves guard Austin Rivers.
“He’s our best player. We’re just much better on the floor with him out there,” Rivers said. “He has a huge responsibility every night scoring, playmakes. He also can defend when he wants to.
… We need him on the floor.”
Certainly that isn’t always possible. There are injuries that athletes simply cannot play through. But with others, they can if they so choose. And Edwards has made the choice to play through pain with his current hip injury.
He feels it when he changes speed or direction, when he executes a euro step on offense or slides his feet on defense. Yet none of that has stopped him from competing. It’s the third-year guard’s attempt to set a tone and build toughness — not only within himself, but the entire team.
“Showing my team I can fight through anything,” he said, “so they do the same.”
That’s why it was important for Edwards to not only play, but produce late in that loss to Detroit. Onlookers may have questioned why the 21-year-old, who was clearly not 100%, played all 12 minutes of the final frame in a decided defeat. But Edwards, who scored 15 points in that fourth quarter alone, is consistently out to lead by example.
“It shows a toughness that he has and what he brings to the table,“ Naz Reid said. “Everybody is following suit. That’s our guy right now. I feel as though if he does the proper things, everybody’s going to follow right behind him.”
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said no one is “feeling fresh” at this point in the season — past the midway point but still about a month shy of the all-star break. But the Wolves, he added, are “proud” of their young star for pushing through pain.
Rivers noted there are off-days built into the schedule to get rest when needed — Sunday is one of those for the Wolves. Game days are a time to perform.
“When you play through stuff, your body acclimates. … Your body adjusts and learns how to take it,” he said. “Game time, if he can, we need our best player out there.”
So that’s where Edwards said he will continue to be — on the floor, competing alongside his teammates. And the Wolves will be better for it.
“This dude’s invested. He’s here. This guy’s playing through injuries, no matter (what),” Rivers said. “The Houston game, a lot of guys would just sit out, like, ‘Hey, we’ll win without him.’ But Ant came out there and really showed us. When your best player is that invested, it means a lot. I think he sets a tone.”
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