Nathan Jawai Toronto Raptors Cairns

Great news on the Nathan Jawai front, for both Australian basketball fans and those up in sunny Toronto following the Raptors. After a long wait, one that has excluded Jawai from the 24 games to date in the 2008-09 season, the big man has been cleared to play.

The National Post:

“The Toronto Raptors cleared Jawai to begin physical activity after the club had held him out of such procedings because of worry about his heart. In a routine screening before training camp started in October, the Raptors found a cardiac abnormality in Jawai. The club did not say anything further at the time — or since then — because of doctor-patient confidentiality.

But now Jawai has been given the go-ahead to start practising with the club. Up until now, he took the occassional free throws while the team was conducting practice, but that was the extent of his involvement.”

Toronto’s Globe & Mail:

“The club and Jawai have chosen not to disclose the nature of the problem, although a report in an Australian newspaper quoting his agent suggested it was an enlarged heart. This is good news for Jawai, who has seemed understandably bored and worried during a long stretch of prescribed rest that doctors used to assess his heart condition. Anything more strenuous that a brisk walk was a no-no and his basketball career was seriously up in the air. All I can offer on the kid’s potential is that he’s a beast with the feet of a ballet dancer — to paraphrase Maurizio Gherardini – who was on the radar of a lot of teams before the Raptors acquired him. With my own eyes I can attest that he’s a good free throw shooting big and has nice touch from two feet with either hand — that’s all I’ve ever seen him do. For the team it’s a chance that they can get a little more from the O’Neal trade than O’Neal. Let’s face it, for the Raptors to progress as an organization, they’re going to need their Manu Ginobilli moment, where they find a legit star from an unexpected source. Maybe Jawai is it. Now they can find out, at least.”

Doug Smith of The Star:

“Jawai’s been out since the first day of training camp after a heart abnormality was discovered during pre-camp medical tests. He was told to rest and not do any basketball-related work for an extended period of time so cardiologists he’s seen across North Ameria could determine the significance of the “abnormality.”

His final visit to a doctor came Tuesday when he was cleared.”

Australia’s ABC:

Jawai’s friend and former Taipans assistant coach Aaron Fearne says Jawai’s relieved that he can finally get back on the court.

“He’s had to wait this length of time to get an opportunity to get the OK, to get out there and show the NBA, show the world, show Australia, his family what he can do,” he said.

“He’s over the moon right now. I don’t think you can take the smile off his face.”

Clearly Jawai’s return will be a slow one. He has been out of action for two months now and it is about nine months since he has played competitive basketball with the Cairns Taipans in the 2007-08 NBL season. Add to this fact the upheaval in Toronto with Sam Mitchell having been axed and the logjam upfront, where Jawai will play behind Bosh, O’Neal, Bargnani and Humphries and we shouldn’t expect Jawai to set the world alight.

It is great news for big Nate to just have the chance to step onto an NBA court though.