Back surgery best for Mitch McGary’s ‘long-term health’


Mitch McGary has decided to undergo back surgery in an attempt to heal what has been called a “lower back condition.” The injury has been ailing the big man since August and caused him to miss the entire preseason and much of the regular season. After rehabbing furiously to get back on the court, another flare-up of the back issue precipitated the decision for surgery.

The Preseason All-American is out “indefinitely” and potentially for the rest of the season.

On Friday, McGary and Beilein addressed the decision before assembled media at the Crisler Center. The sophomore said it has been very painful playing through the injury, and that pain was compounded by more run-of-the-mill bumps and bruises such as a bad ankle and a thigh contusion.

“I think it all added up and it was a little overwhelming just because I wasn’t back in the shape I wanted to be and it just added up over time,” McGary said on Friday.

McGary said many different factors went into his decision to have surgery.

“I definitely didn’t want to injure my body more than it needs to be, so that was something going into it,” McGary said. “I rehabbed for such a long time and tried to play through it. Overall I just wanted to get it over with, get it in the past, work on my health and get 100 percent again.”

There is not a timetable for McGary’s recovery following surgery, but the University said in an official statement that its medical staff expects the big man to “make a full recovery.”

Beilein mapped out the timeline of the injury, from when it first became an issue up to the present time.

“It took a long time to make this decision because of the fact that he’s worked and rehabbed and done so much all the way back from August,” Beilein said. “But when the issue came up again with the condition in the last couple weeks, we met with a lot of people and Mitch decided it was in his best interest for his long-term health to go ahead and have surgery.”

From the outset of the injury, which occurred during the offseason, Beilein said the prospect of surgery was on the table. However, McGary wanted to try to rehab the injury first in an attempt to make a full recovery in time for this season.

“(Surgery) could have been an option. There were all kinds of options we were looking at,” Beilein said. “Anybody who has a bad back, I think — but we were trying to avoid that as much as possible. I’m telling you, that young man was at rehab every morning, it seems like five or six mornings a week … He did everything. Now when it came back the last two weeks, it was like, when is this going to get better? And the surgery seemed to be the best option for him.”

When McGary was asked if his decision to return to school weighed on him after an event like this, he said he chose not to think about it. He added that he has no regrets.

“When the time comes, we’ll get to there and figure that out,” McGary said. “But right now I just really want to get focused on having the surgery and getting on the bench and cheering my team on.”

  • rlcBlue

    Best of luck and a quick recovery, Mitch.

    I wonder if there’s any change in thinking about Donnal’s redshirt…

    • Guest

      Beilein said they aren’t considering burning his redshirt at this time.

  • hailtoyourvictor

    I wish we knew what the surgery was. As I stated in the article below, there are some back surgeries that we would expect a 1-2 month timetable and some 3-4 months or more.

    “Back Surgery” is extremely vague.

  • EchoWhiskey

    It’s a dick question to ask him about returning to school in light of this injury. Hindsight is 20/20 and there’s nothing he can do about the decision now. What’s the point of basically asking, “are you upset that you possibly have screwed yourself out of future earnings?” Uh, yeah, thanks for bringing that up.

  • Guest

    Joe…do you by chance know medically what the back problem actually was? Like many, I have severe back pain and the specialists say they cannot operate on my condition. They just say no surgery will help. Confusing to me especially since more and more are getting back surgeries all the time. Help!!!

    • Kam

      I’m not Joe but I’m 99% sure he knows no more than we do.. He basically tells us everything he knows haha

      • Guest

        This is accurate…I am also no chiropractor

  • Mattski

    Maybe you’ve already got one in the pipeline, Dylan, but I would love to see a piece about how you think Michigan’s prospects are altered going forward by this news. With several NBA prospects on this team, I don’t see why Beilein shouldn’t be telling them that they can make the NCAA tourney. GRIII’s recent emergence has to give one hope, and I don’t think that anyone should write off our center-by-committee combo of Horford and Morgan.

    Looking backward, one has to feel that this has been pretty unsettling in terms of game planning. A little more certainty about who’s playing and how may not be a bad thing. . .

  • David Remmler

    This is very disappointing. I am curious about his actual diagnosis. I would guess that he has a herniated disc. Back surgery is a major undertaking and it’s difficult to determine whether it will be successful in alleviating symptoms. MRI abnormalities aren’t always the cause of somebody’s pain. It does sound like he took an appropriate time to try other therapies. I would also hope that he obtained more than one opinion from the best specialists and is being operated on by a top surgeon. Given his anticipated line of work and age, an optimal result will have a huge impact on his earning potential. I would assume he won’t be back this year but I wouldn’t completely rule out a return in post-season play.

    While I’m disappointed for this team’s prospects, the most important thing is Mitch’s long term health. I hope to see Mitch playing well for a long time and rooting for him in the NBA. As for this team, I think we’re still in good shape with Horford, Morgan and Bielfeldt in the middle – as long as refs don’t go crazy with their whistles as they did in the Stanford game! And the talent at the 3-5 positions is the best in the country. And we probably have the best coach in the country. So we’ve changed from a good chance at the Final Four to a team that is still a good bet for the Sweet Sixteen or even better.

  • gobluemd16

    This sucks. Hoping for the best for Mitch for a successful procedure (whatever that is exactly) and a speedy recovery. Forget the NBA for a while, let’s just hope he can get back to full strength and play basketball at the ability he was previously.