Parker Fox and Isaiah Sie are bandaged at the knee.
Also on the hips. But after the Gophers men’s basketball team’s forwards suffered back-to-back serious knee injuries that took away both of their last two seasons, particularly to the knee. The teammates and roommates bonded as they went through the process side by side, not just once, but twice.
In 2021, Fox required anterior cruciate ligament surgery in his left knee when he transferred from Division II Northern State to USA in the spring, while they required ACL surgery in the summer before his third season at Minnesota.
In 2022, Fox tore the ACL in his right knee in June, and re-injured the ACL in his left knee a few weeks later.
“Honestly, it was ridiculous to suffer these types of injuries back to back,” you said. “You wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but at the same time it was a blessing to have (Fox) with me. He is a very carefree guy and also very motivated. He helped me push myself. I helped him. I kind of pushed him. It was great to have him.”
You and Fox are healthy and will play in the Gophers’ season opener against Bethune-Cookman at Williams Arena on Monday at 7 p.m. They are excited about their third chance to play college basketball.
Fox, who attended Mahtomedi High School, said he gets goosebumps thinking about debuting at his home school. His current count of non-game days is over 960.
“After I tore my second knee, we had a team meeting… and I told the guys,” Fox shared. “The biggest thing I was just sad about was not being able to go to training. I can’t play basketball for a year. I love this sport.”
Head coach Ben Johnson admitted that he had doubts that Monday’s game would happen for Fox and you. He said there was some relief after playing in the U’s exhibition win over Macalester on Thursday.
“It was pretty incredible when you think about it — to even stay motivated to get to this point,” Johnson said. “Two years of the same kind of arduous rehab. I think it shows a certain level of competitiveness in them to do this. They’ve built up their confidence and now I’m not necessarily worried about them mentally when they’re on the floor.”
told them his first injury occurred when he slipped on a wet spot on the field. The second time occurred when he stepped on someone else’s foot during a five-on-five practice over the summer. Bad luck followed bad luck.
Fox said his second injury occurred during a transition drill in practice. He had you on his left and his former teammate Jamison Battle on his right. Fox passed to Battle for a 3-pointer before Fox took a step and his knee gave out. The threatening nature of non-contact injuries.
“I looked at the coach and opened my eyes (wide),” Fox recalled. “He asks, ‘What?’ I thought, “I tore it up.” He didn’t believe me, but I knew right away. I think it’s a feeling you don’t realize until you do it. But when you do it twice you think: Yes, there it is.”
Fox recalled telling Johnson as he left the practice facility later that day, “One day I’ll play for you.”
After his second knee injury he went to Germany for a while, while Fox took a break from Mahtomedi. His family put his bed in the living room so he didn’t have to climb stairs.
“There are dog days of surgery where you can’t even stand on your leg,” Fox said. “You can tap on your leg and you can just feel the bones, it’s like, ‘There’s no way I’m coming back on the court.’ ”
Among other things, the chatty Fox started a podcast to learn how others have overcome their own serious injuries. His guests include, of course, U volleyball player Taylor Landfair, soccer player Chris Autman-Bell, former basketball teammate Eric Curry and you. The conversation flowed with you.
“I mean, I spent more time with this guy than you know,” Fox told reporters in late October. “I love him to death. We just spent so much time, like every training session, three hours at training, we were in the training room together.”
They said Fox helped “not feel alone.” You, the only player still in the program from the Richard Pitino era, showed that he could drive himself.
“I never want to give up,” you said. “When I committed to this school, I came here with the intention of being a part of this school and helping them win here. That was the first reason. The second reason was just the (Johnson) coaching staff that came in. It clicked for us straight away.”
Fox and you also connect as fans of major European football clubs, with Fox supporting London club Tottenham Hotspur and you supporting Bayern Munich. When star English striker Harry Kane moved from Tottenham to Bayern at the beginning of the year, you made life difficult for Fox.
“We definitely joked back and forth about that a little bit,” you said. “But it’s a better club, so who can find fault with (Kane)?”
At home, Fox sets the standard for cleanliness; U-teammates Jackson Purcell and Will Ramberg also share the space. They say he’s decent too, but nowhere near the same level as Fox.
“It’s a little bit OCD,” you said. “But he makes sure the apartment is always clean. I think this is very important because I experienced the opposite of the roommates not being clean at all. It is great.”
If you’re not the cleanest, what does he offer as a roommate?
“I guess good energy, good vibes,” Fox said. “It’s not about cleaning the kitchen, I’m telling you.”
Her apartment has a wall of five televisions. It’s a sports fan’s paradise where a junkie like Fox watches every game he can get his hands on, including his former teammate Payton Willis playing overseas in Italy. Maybe you and Fox return from the barn to their apartment late Monday night and watch highlights of their games for the Gophers.