The fact Al Harrington is playing in the NBA, much less a key contributor to a Playoff-bound Wizards team that has broken out as one of the rising teams in the Eastern Conference. A big reason for Washington’s success is the presence of key veterans like Harrington.
Harrington though has his own reasons for feeling like he has accomplished something. He may not even need a Playoff berth to feel like he accomplished anything this season. Just making it through the year healthy — he has played in only 30 of Washington’s 78 games — was quite the accomplishment.
Back in 2012, Harrington suffered a torn meniscus in his knee. He opted to play through it and seek surgery in the offseason. Surgery did not go as planned as he suffered a staph infection and his playing career was in serious jeopardy.
Harrington has never been the star of any of the teams that he has played for in his career. But he has always been a major contributing member.
It was a tough summer for Harrington as he was eventually traded to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard trade. When he was finally ready to play, the Magic told him to stay away — his agent reportedly being told by Magic general manager Rob Hennigan that Harrington was finished.
There was a real chance Harrington’s career was over. This was his last chance, and he let the Wizards know that before the season (as told to Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report):
So I’m sitting there, and all I could think about was—and this is who I am—the first game of the season when we played in Detroit. I was talking to the Wizards, and I ain’t going to lie, I cried, because I was just trying to tell them what I had been through in the past two years to get to that point. For me, I came into this season all in, like this could be my last season.
I had asked God. I said, “God, you just let me play one more season, and I will be done. You give me one more healthy season and I will give it up.” And I told the Wizards that in Detroit. I said, “We’re going to make the playoffs. I’ll help you all get there.” So when I was sitting there with my wife thinking more selfishly about my kids and everything, I thought more about the commitment I made to the team. So I told my wife, “I’ve got to clean out the knee now and just see if I can get back.” And that’s just what I’ve done.
Harrington’s numbers are extremely modest. He is not a “difference maker” for the Wizards. He is an important player for the Wizards thanks to his ability to spread the floor as a power forward. Undoubtedly his presence has been good for this young Washington team.
More than that, though, Harrington is finding closure to his career and proving all the hard work it took to get back has been worth it for him, his family and his teammates. The Playoffs are a just reward for the veteran player.