Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gay Optimistic after Off-Season Eye Surgery, and Summer Spent Shooting

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gay Optimistic after Off-Season Eye Surgery, and Summer Spent Shooting

Article excerpt

Gay optimistic after off-season eye surgery


TORONTO - Rudy Gay had no idea how bad his vision was until he went to renew his drivers license last year and nearly failed the test.

"They said 'Do you wear glasses?' I said no. They said, 'Well you need to wear glasses,'" Gay recounted, with a laugh.

He wasn't laughing at the time. For a guy who makes his living tossing a ball through a hoop from a distance, the news was rather disconcerting.

So after a brief and unsuccessful experiment with corrective goggles, the Toronto Raptors small forward underwent surgery to correct his vision during an off-season that was otherwise devoted to improving his shooting, and beefing up his body.

One day into training camp, and Gay said he's feeling like a much-improved player than the one who led the Raptors in scoring last season but also had career lows in both field goal and three-point percentage.

He joked that any improvement in his game this season will be credited solely to his better vision.

"Honestly, I was talking to my trainer, and he said if you come out and have a great season it's going to be because of your eye, not because of the work you put in," Gay said.

The 27-year-old Gay wouldn't wear contact lenses, as he had an aversion to touching his eyes. The Raptors medical staff provided him with prescription goggles but he wasn't keen on those either. So he underwent surgery early in the summer, which he said wasn't fun.

"Recovery was horrible, it was terrible," Gay said. "Probably (lasted) about two weeks. First week I couldn't see, second week I could. And then months and months of putting eye drops in.

"But it was one of those things that needed to happen if I wanted to continue my career."

Gay averaged 19.5 points to top Toronto in scoring after he was acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in a mid-season trade. The Raptors went 16-30 prior to the trade, and finished 18-18 with Gay on the roster.

Still, he was far from his best, shooting a career-low 40.8 per cent -- down from his career high of 47.1 per cent two seasons earlier -- and 31 per cent from three-point range.

So he committed every day of the off-season, he said, to being a better shooter.

"I started from the basics. . . form, worked on my form. From there just rhythm, shooting, shooting, shooting, becoming comfortable with it.

"I made about 300 shots a day, sometimes more, on a light day probably 300."

Gay has been criticized for taking low-percentage shots -- namely long two-pointers. But at the urging of Raptors coach Dwane Casey, he sounds like he's starting to see the light when it comes to shot selection.

Casey said he's been drilling Gay and Toronto's other sharpshooter DeMar DeRozan about higher percentage shots.

"Corner threes, paint, get to the rim, get to the free throw line, and subsequently shooting percentage is going to go up," Casey said. …

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