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Raptors F Kleiza refutes Lithuanian report of retirement

The Canadian Press

2/22/2013 7:00:25 PM

TORONTO -- Linas Kleiza wants everyone to know his basketball career is not over.

The Toronto Raptors forward made an impromptu appearance before the media on Friday morning to refute a Lithuanian report that his nagging knee problems had spelled the end of his career.

In fact, Kleiza said he could return to action as early as a week from now.

Kleiza's brother called him Friday morning to inform him of the article on Lithuanian website 15min.lt.

"The article. . . said my career was over, I'm retired. It's funny, it's the Lithuanian media, I don't even know what to say," Kleiza said. "I don't even want to talk about it, I don't know how you can even write something like that out of the blue.

"It's funny, but at the end of the day, it's not very funny when they talk about you like that."

Antanas Guoga, former head of the Lithuanian national team's delegation, was quoted in the article saying Kleiza would need more surgery on his knee. He originally underwent microfracture knee surgery in 2011.

"I've heard that the surgery didn't go right, there were some mistakes (in the rehabilitation process) after the injury," Guoga told 15min.lt. "It's not good that he underwent surgery in the United States. You can't turn the clock back, but things might have been different, if it had been Lithuanian medics."

Kleiza, who hasn't played since Dec. 28, said he's been working hard since then to build up his quadriceps strength.

"It was tough last year, a lot of games, then the summer," said Kleiza, who played for Lithuania at the London Olympics. "I had to take a couple of months off to build it back. Now I feel the best I've felt since the surgery."

Kleiza said he never considered retirement through his recovery, and tried to laugh off the Lithuanian article.

"I don't take things personal what they write, they write a lot of stuff," he said. "They translate rumours into facts, that's how it is in a small country, where basketball is the number one thing.

"I just want to get back, like I said, I feel great. "