How Mystics forward Myisha Hines-Allen stayed optimistic after knee surgery
How Hines-Allen stayed optimistic after knee surgery originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
One of the greatest challenges that come with being a professional basketball player is staying healthy, combined with the time and commitment that goes into taking care of your body. For Washington Mystics’ forward Myisha Hines-Allen, an injury obstacle got in her way when she suffered a partial patellar tendon tear in her left knee against the Atlanta Dream on June 17, 2021.
Hines-Allen initially missed nearly two months of playing time during the 2021 season. After being swept by the Seattle Storm in the 2022 playoffs, it meant the end of the Mystics’ season but not for Hines-Allen. She was initially named to USA Basketball’s 28-player training camp roster in August, her first career selection, but made the decision to withdraw due to her plans for surgery. The injury lingered for Hines-Allen during the 2022 season and on Sept. 9 she announced via Twitter her plans to undergo surgery on her knee.
Last season Hines-Allen averaged 8.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 19.3 minutes of action per game, her lowest production since the 2019 season. Despite these numbers, she played in a career-high 34-games, which goes to show the kind of heart Hines-Allen has trying to play through an injury.
Heading into her sixth season in the WNBA, all with the Mystics, it’s been challenging for Hines-Allen to be on the sidelines as one of the team’s key leaders. Her road to recovery has been a long one since her surgery back in September, but she managed to remain positive and found ways to keep herself inspired.
“The podcast [Offline] for sure helped with that,” said Hines-Allen. “Just seeing everyone's face every single day. Whether that be my teammates, Christina, Sarah, coaches, you know, I'm just going home also to my dog. He definitely helps with a lot. I mean, just trying to just keep the positive attitude. Just know that every day is not going to be a good day.”
Hines-Allen created her own podcast, Offline, alongside Mystics’ practice player Greg Cross. The purpose of the podcast is to promote the voices and visibility of women in sports, a major centerpiece to what the Mystics are all about. Not only does the podcast serve as a way for Hines-Allen to stay up to date with her teammates, who have been on several episodes, but it is an outlet for her, so she is not constantly focusing on her rehab.
One of the Mystics' top players, Hines-Allen will likely be coming off the bench behind Elena Delle Donne, Shakira Austin and newcomer Amanda Zahui B as she gradually works her way back up to full speed. A versatile player, Hines-Allen can use her explosiveness and skill to take advantage of mismatches when at full strength.
Delle Donne was a key outlet in helping Hines-Allen stay positive and focused. This was the first offseason in years where Delle Donne did not have to worry about her own rehabbing, which gave her the space to help Hines-Allen through hers.
“Myisha, she was here every single day and she was working,” Delle Donne said at Media Day. “There’s some days where you can kind of see her just a little bit down, but Myisha is one of those people that generally you’re not going to see her like that for very long. She is so positive and she is always you know laughing, smiling, talking, she’s got a loud voice, but just trying to encourage her.”
Not only did the medical staff play a huge role in Hines-Allen’s recovery, but her coaches and teammates did as well. Delle Donne as well as Natasha Cloud have both suffered injuries in their careers and they know how hard it can be to have the patience to not rush right back onto the court. They are not just teammates. It is a sisterhood at the end of the day.
“Yes, I pull it from Elena…Tasha has been…just their encouragement, like the words that they give me,” said Hines-Allen. “Everyone from talking, I mean, soon as [Amanda Zahui B.] stepped in, she came here she asked, oh, what was wrong? She didn't know anything was wrong. I told her. She was like, girl you look good. Then after that she tells me every single day, girl you’re looking like a basketball player. So just having teammates who care, and the support staff too who care and just want to see me get better.”
Hines-Allen has made a lot of progress since her surgery in September, but it will take time to get her back to full court play. With Hines-Allen sitting likely sitting out the preseason, the Mystics’ will have to monitor how soon they would like to insert Hines-Allen back into the lineup with the season opener beginning Friday at home against the New York Liberty.
“When I got to play two on two on Friday, I was just like, I think I shed a tear to be honest with you,” said Hines-Allen. “I've just come a long way and just you know that rehab, well still rehabbing, so like this process has really been tough. Mentally, physically, emotionally, all of it has just been super tough. So you know, we got more better days coming.”