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By having surgery, Olynyk puts Celtics over Canada

Kelly Olynyk was not effective in his limited minutes during the playoffs.david goldman/AP

BOXFORD — Kelly Olynyk made an appearance at Spofford Pond School Wednesday as the Celtics and National Grid helped open a new science lab there for the students. There was an emblem on the cement wall commemorating the occasion, and after assisting a group of children with a science experiment, Olynyk was asked to sign the wall.

“This is one of a kind,” the 7-footer said as he scrawled his name with a marker. “It’s the only signature I’ve ever done with my left hand.”

That is because Olynyk’s right arm was in a sling as he recovers from last Monday’s shoulder surgery that is expected to sideline him for about five months.


Olynyk said choosing to have the procedure was one of the hardest decisions of his life. He was incredibly eager to play for Canada’s national team this summer as it attempts to qualify for the Olympics. But he also knew that delaying surgery until after the Games would not be fair to the Celtics.

“If I would have played in the Olympics and done it in September, I would have been ready for playoff time hopefully, right?” Olynyk said. “I just couldn’t miss all of next year.

“We’re moving in the right direction and I want to keep momentum going. It was a really, really tough decision, obviously for everything I have tied back to Canada, but it was something I needed to do.”

Olynyk sprained his right shoulder during a Feb. 10 win over the Clippers. He missed 12 games, and even after he returned March 16, he appeared tentative. Olynyk said he knew he could not help the team the way he wanted. On Wednesday, he joked that if he had tried to hold off one of these elementary school students prior to having surgery, he would not have been able to.


“Motions without contact were OK, but once you put any contact on there, my arm was done,” Olynyk said. “I couldn’t do anything.”

Olynyk aggravated the injury during Game 1 of the Celtics’ first-round playoff matchup against the Hawks. He missed the next two games and was mostly ineffective for the remainder of the series, as he missed all six of his field-goal attempts and Boston’s season ended.

After consulting with several doctors, Olynyk realized that surgery was inevitable. The main issue, then, became timing. But it did not take Olynyk long to realize that sacrificing a summer with Team Canada was the best option.

“I definitely wasn’t at my best physically at the end of the year.” he said. “There’s no saying I was going to be able to help the national team this summer. So it was just something that kind of needed to get done.”

Olynyk expects to shed his sling in about 10 days, and then he will begin the long and extensive recovery period, regaining strength in the arm before eventually progressing to noncontact basketball drills. He hopes to go to Toronto during the Canadian national team’s training camp to support teammates, and he is eager to get back on the court, too.

“The hope is that it’s solved,” Olynyk said. “They tell me I’m going to be stronger than I’ve ever felt, ever been. So that’s what I’m looking forward to.”