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Mundelein Tuesday 02.05.13. Mundelein's Robert Knar dribbles past his father and head coach Dick Knar during team practice on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, at the school. Robert has been out all year due to an ACL injury. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

You watch him in practice and you can see he’s close ... in much the same way that the Chicago Bulls say Derrick Rose is “close” to returning to the court.

Last year, Rose went down with a torn ACL knee injury in the playoffs. A couple of months later, in July, Mundelein basketball star Robert Knar was felled by the same type of injury.

Tearing an ACL is all about surgery and then rehab and more rehab and still more rehab. And then, one day, you’re good to go just as you were before you went down.

Robert Knar is still waiting for the doc to say those magic words: Good to go.

“The knee feels great. There’s no pain. It gets a little sore after a long practice, but an ice bath takes care of that,” Knar said after practice this week. “Off of two feet, I’m grabbing the rim again. Jumping off the left one feels good too, but it will still take a little while to get back to full strength.

“It’s up to 90 percent, and I feel like a million bucks. I guess I can’t wait for it to get to 100 percent, but it’s going great.”

Knar actually suited up for three games and was on the court for Mundelein’s last game against Warren. Inserted into the lineup with four seconds to go, he stood in a corner as a decoy.

Mundelein’s coach, Richard Knar, is also Robert’s dad, so he’s literally been involved in every step of rehab.

“I don’t think there was a time where he (Robert) was bitter about it. He’s never once said, ‘Why me?’ His attitude was always, ‘I’m going to get back faster than they say I’m going to get back,’” the father/coach said. “Monday through Friday, he goes to Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He shoots in the morning from about 6:45-7:30. Then he comes to practice and does what he can do in practice.

“Now what we’re guarding against is fatigue. That’s one thing the doctor said about guarding against. When he’s fully cleared, it will probably be in two-minute increments each quarter, and then gradually building from there. As the doctor said, once the ACL is solid, it comes down to how strong the leg is to support the knee.”

Knar cannot wait for the moment when he can return to game action.

“I didn’t think I’d be back on the court. I knew I could get myself ready to play late in the season, but I wasn’t sure my doctor would let me,” Knar said. “Now that I’m back on the floor with my teammates, I’m cherishing every moment of it.

“My sophomore and junior years, I sometimes despised practices and doing the same thing over and over. Now, I don’t take it for granted. I love spending every minute with my guys.”

And the guys love spending their time with him.

“I think everybody is extra-motivated to see him come back so fast from that injury. He’s worked so hard, and that makes all of us work harder,” said Sean O’Brien who has played with Knar on the varsity for three seasons. “Seeing him get closer and closer to playing, we’re just really excited. Everybody is pumped up, and I think we’re playing better (Mundelein’s 12-9). Our practices have definitely been a lot better since he’s been back.”

As for the toughest part of this whole thing, here’s how coach/dad Richard put it:

“The hardest thing for us was when it happened ...I was down in Arkansas and I got the call that his ACL was torn. I said, ‘Get him down here and we’ll hang out at the lake and cheer him up.’

“We were down at the beach at this lake ... and Robert came over and sat down next to me. He looked at me and got choked up. He said, ‘Dad, what am I going to do now? This is my life. I want to play basketball.’

“That was the first time I got emotional about it. I told him, ‘We’re going to do this and this and you’re going to have to do this.’ That was hard.”

And now after all that, the finish line is finally in sight.

When will Knar be back?

Soon!

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