Khem Birch is back on the ground after he, his wife, and their daughter contracted COVID-19.
The Raptors center and his family arrived in Toronto on Sept. 18 to begin preparing for the season, but a week later, the entire family was struck down by the virus.
“I lost my sense of smell and a bit of fatigue. But I think I can go back, ”Birch said. “I feel good now. I think the form of the game is different, it just doesn’t play.”
All three affected were twice vaccinated and Birch is sure the severity of the virus lessened for him and his family.
While Birch only lost her sense of smell, his wife lost both smell and taste. Both were affected by the fatigue that accompanies the virus. But Birch’s daughter had no symptoms. “My daughter was perfect,” Birch said.
It remains to be seen what this means for Birch’s role going forward with the Raptors.
Obviously, it’ll take some time to get back into game form, although when viewed at zoom after morning shooting practice, it still looks like an imposing physical specimen.
While Birch says he has no trouble starting or coming off the bench as long as the team is winning, the belief is that when he returns to top speed, he will be out there as the defensive anchor in that starting five.
Two things suggest it could very well happen on opening night.
First,Birch will have a full week of practice between the final preseason game and opening night next Wednesday. He also happens to be a guy who gets up to speed pretty quickly.
“I usually get in shape fast,” Birch said. “Fortunately after these two games we have a whole week of practice before our first game. Right now I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can, not worrying about the score on the box, just worrying about getting the W. “