Photo: FIBA Basketball

After the Turkish Basketball Federation’s decision, Shane Larkin explained why he couldn’t join the recent Olympic Games Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Istanbul. Larkin, 30, shared his perspective on Instagram on Saturday evening.

“I’ve remained silent on the situation involving the national team this summer out of respect for the players who were there working hard and getting ready to compete in the qualifiers, but I feel as though now I must. It is heartbreaking how all of this is being handled and disrespectful to my character as a person based on the TRUTH of what has occurred.

So the truth is: the national team asked me to join the team for camp even though it was already known that my body was in a bad place and it would have been risky for me to play in the qualifying games. I was in the USA working on my body and trying to recover from a season full of injuries and to train for the upcoming season. The national team still asked me to come report to camp and come get an MRI on my knees to get a proper diagnosis. I flew from Miami to Istanbul and the national team doctor told me that I was in bad shape and that if I were to push myself, I would be at risk of severe damage to my knee for the short and long-term. Word for word, I was told ‘if you push yourself and don’t give it time to heal, you will potentially need surgery that will keep you out for months.’ I was informed to stay off my knees and to stop working out anything lower body. I then started treatment with different medications in order to help myself heal and was asked to come back a week later for another MRI. I did exactly what was asked of me and when came back for the second MRI, the bone was healing but still not in a place where I would be safe to go and play in the games.

Injuries are a part of basketball and some are unavoidable. It is unfortunate but there is always the risk. One of my fellow teammates, Dogus Ozdemiroglu suffered a torn ACL and just today, another player who recently signed in Turkey, Raul Neto, suffered a torn patella. I’m not sure what their health situations were going into the tournaments, however both of those guys will now miss large parts of the season and you never want to see those kinds of injuries. I wish both of them the best of luck on their road to recovery and hope to see them on a court soon. I say that because my knee being at 70% currently would put me at a much higher risk than them if I were to put myself out there.

Last year, playing for the national team, I suffered two torn ligaments in my hand and was told I could continue to play. I played three more games with that injury and at the end of the last game, I could not move two fingers on my right hand – my shooting hand – and I couldn’t feel the ball as my hand was going numb. Yet I did everything I could – injections, pills, treatment – in order to be out there for the team. I had nothing left to give, me being at 50% with no right hand was only going to hurt the team more, so I decided to go and have surgery. I then missed four months with Efes and we ended up having a terrible season, as we all witnessed.

I am truly sorry to all of the fans that wanted to see me play for the national team this summer and it hurt me that I was not able to be there to help the team.

I have always been grateful for the opportunity to be on the national team. And I had conversations with different people within the federation about the future and how good I think we could be. It is truly heartbreaking to see how I am being thrown under the bus when I’ve done everything asked of me except go and put my health at risk by playing with a knee at 70%. I truly do appreciate everything that this country has meant to my life. I feel like this is a second home to me and I genuinely can’t bring myself to understand how we are even in this situation right now, but I guess that is just how things work. I love Turkey and will always love Turkey. And regardless of how any of this plays out, I’m still going to do my best to give back to the country. At this point, my love for Turkey goes way beyond basketball. No amount of fine or punishment can change that. My heart is here and with the people and I PROMISE you will see that.”