May makes his comeback

Published 1:59 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

By By MIKE CRANSTON, AP Sports Writer
WILMINGTON — A fan came up to Charlotte Bobcats forward Sean May over the summer and was blunt.
Ex-teammate Brevin Knight was even more direct, telling May, ‘‘Man, are you ever going to stop robbing the league?’’
When you play in 58 games and miss 188 over three seasons you catch plenty of grief. When you are seemingly following your father’s path by starring in college and then being a disappointing pro, the scrutiny is intense.
After one practice, there’s reason to believe May might able to overcome the three surgeries on his right knee — including last fall’s risky microfracture procedure.
May got through Tuesday’s opening workout of training camp without incident. Wearing black tights under his shorts, the 6-foot-9 power forward appeared to be in decent shape and moved well considering he was only cleared to play two months ago.
Brown is still uncertain if he can depend on May, and for good reason. May even concedes he has a long way to go before he stops repeating his father’s history.
Consider how eerily similar their careers have been.
Scott May scored 26 points in the national championship game for unbeaten Indiana in 1976. Sean May also scored 26 points in the title game 29 years later in leading North Carolina to the title.
Scott May was the No. 2 overall pick by Chicago in the NBA draft, but was limited to seven injury-riddled seasons before retiring. Sean May was the 13th overall pick by Charlotte, but has done next to nothing in three NBA seasons after waking up one day after a game with a throbbing knee.
May is still confident he can salvage his career after a horrible start.
After being voted most outstanding player of the 2005 Final Four, May had arthroscopic surgery to remove damaged cartilage in his knee. He then had another surgery in January that ended his rookie season after 23 games.
The lack of cartilage caused a bone bruise to develop, and the pain limited him to play in only 35 games in the 2006-07 season.
The pain continued and May decided during training camp last year to undergo season-ending microfracture surgery, where small holes are drilled in bones surrounding the knee to stimulate cartilage growth.
On crutches for 14 weeks, May’s weight — a point of contention with former coach Bernie Bickerstaff — soared to 286 pounds.
After an exhaustive rehabilitation, a slimmed-down May started playing in pickup games recently. Monday night, May was too excited to sleep as he prepared for his first practice in 15 months.
Always possessing a soft jump shot for a big man, May showed Tuesday he’s increased his range to the 3-point line. It was all part of a good first day, but May has to sustain it as he enters the final year of his contract.
After copying his dad in college, May has to stop doing it in the NBA to avoid being labeled a bust.
Notes: G Shannon Brown was absent Tuesday as his girlfriend was scheduled to give birth in Atlanta. … C Ryan Hollins (groin) didn’t finish the morning practice. … Larry Brown identified Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace as the team leaders. ‘‘I want to empower them and have them make everybody accountable,’’ Brown said. … Felton said they successfully negotiated with Brown to allow players to wear jeans with a jacket when they travel. But cell phones won’t be allowed on buses and planes. … First-round picks D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca got some early rookie hazing by being forced to leave the morning practice wearing backpacks marketed to young children. Augustin wore a pink ‘‘My Little Pony’’ bag while Ajinca’s bag had a ‘‘Little Miss Giggles’’ logo.