Toronto Raptors

Fred VanVleet: Toronto Raptors guard details experience with COVID-19, talks imminent return to action

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet returned to practice on Tuesday after spending nearly two weeks away from the team due to the league's health and safety protocols.

For privacy reasons, the protocols don't explicitly state why a player is placed within, but VanVleet spoke with reporters following his return to action and confirmed that he did miss time after testing positive for COVID-19.

"I tested positive myself … I definitely was notified that I tested positive," VanVleet shared. "I had symptoms, a few days of symptoms. It was pretty rough - a few of those days. Didn't last that long, got out of it and at that point, it just turned into a waiting game."

When recalling his days with the virus, VanVleet got into more detail on the timeline of how things progressed and how he felt at his worst.

"For me, I could just speak for myself. I tested positive, had symptoms pretty soon after that. Back sore, body aches, feel like I just played three nights in a row … sore, headache, my eyes were hurting. I didn't have the shortness of breath or anything like that - I had a fever (for) a day and a half, two days.

"(It was) definitely nothing like anything I've ever had. I could feel that it was something different, I could feel the sickness, I could just feel it in me. I could feel it in my bones, in my blood, in my muscles - it just was something that was kind of taking my body over for a short period of time and a lot of rest, a lot of Tylenol and just waiting it out and once it passed out, I felt perfectly fine again - just a little fatigued and body a little beat up just from the sickness passing through."

While it was undoubtedly a tough experience to endure, VanVleet made sure to provide perspective when detailing all that it was that he had to deal with.

"It was a whirlwind, definitely an experience that I won't forget," the 27-year-old continued. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody but I'm here, I'm alive, I'm breathing and I know there's a lot of people that didn't make it through COVID so my thoughts and my heart are with the people that's been affected by this thing that weren't as fortunate as I was - as I am."

Since first missing Toronto's meeting with the Detroit Pistons on March 3, VanVleet had been in isolation and was unable to participate in physical activity prior to this week. Listed as "doubtful" for the Raptors' rematch with the Pistons on March 17, VanVleet realizes it might take some time for him to get back into playing form and onto the floor.

"It's gonna be a process for sure, it's gonna take time. I'm just taking baby steps … I want to get back out there, hopefully, sooner rather than later and start to put the pieces back together. I do not have any expectations for tomorrow (vs. Detroit), it's not in my hands, it's not really in the team's hands, so, waiting on some clearance.

"Obviously, trying to get my conditioning back and just clear all the proper protocols … I have no expectations to play but I would like to play."

Whether it's during the Raptors' upcoming meeting with the Pistons or in one of their other two games this week, VanVleet, whose 36.9 minutes per game rank third in the league, assured reporters that he plans on coming out at full force to see how his body responds.

"I'll tell you one thing, Imma go out there swinging. Imma jump in there and if I don't feel right when I'm out there, then you guys will see me walk back to the locker room and I'll be out until I can feel better, but whenever I do step foot back out there, I'm going out there swinging …

"If I play really bad, you guys can write that I (had) COVID," VanVleet quipped. "And if I play good, then you gotta write and big me up and talk about how great I am. How about that?"

Toronto takes on Detroit at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17 on TSN. Stick with NBA.com for updates surrounding VanVleet's impending return to the starting lineup.

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