PHILADELPHIA Mickael Pietrus sits in front of his locker stall, chatting it up like he always does before games.
He delivers a fist-bump to a couple teammates and a couple members of the media.
It all seems like just another day in the life of Mickael Pietrus, a backup wing for the Boston Celtics.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Tonight's Game 3 matchup between Boston and Philadelphia takes Pietrus back to a place where his basketball career nearly ended on March 23.
Sitting in his stall, reminiscing on that eventful night, he's now just a few hundred feet away from the basketball court in which he took a spill that, in the blink of an eye, had many wondering -- including Pietrus -- if he'd ever be able to walk, let alone play basketball again.
In an exclusive interview with CSNNE.com less than 24 hours after the horrendous spill, he opened up about how fortunate he felt that the injury was one in which he would eventually be able to resume his basketball career.
"I still have some dizziness, and feel weak," he told CSNNE.com at the time. "But I know it could have been a lot worse."
That night would prove to be a life-changer for Pietrus.
After landing on the base of his neck, he lay motionless for minutes, too many minutes for anyone to know what was going on.
Eventually he would be carted off the court on a stretcher, with the kind of random thoughts bouncing through his head that speak to the serious nature of his injury.
His family. Friends. Basketball. Life.
It was all a blur for Pietrus, unsure how any of it would play out.
Maybe that's why to this day, he doesn't remember much other than what he saw on video afterward that even now, makes him emotional.
"When I look at the tape at night, I was just sad, crying," Pietrus said. "It could have been worse for me. It could have been worse for my family. It could have been worse for my kids; trying to do something I enjoy everyday, playing basketball and turn into life-turning."
Pietrus was always a happy-go-lucky guy before the Grade-3 concussion sidelined him for 10 games.
The injury gave him an even greater appreciation for the little things that far too often get taken for granted.
He has some soreness in his surgically repaired knee, and there's a good chance he'll need an operation of some kind when the season is over.
And yet, you'll rarely hear him complain or be down about the injury . . . or anything for that matter.
"To me, I see life different," he said. "The one minute, you can be happy. The next, life might not be the same for you. So I enjoy everything no matter how it goes down."
Pietrus has been in a major funk shooting the ball, but he showed signs of life in Game 2 with a pair of 3-pointers.
He'll look to contribute more of the same tonight in a pivotal Game 3 matchup.
But as much as he wants to contribute, simply being able to be on the floor is more than he could ask for the last time he was in this building.
"Being back here, is always good because we're here for a reason," he said. "At the same time, I look at the floor and all the bad memories come through me. Hopefully, it'll be better tonight."