On Monday, Herb Turetzky took a significant step forward in his bout with novel coronavirus. With the help of his wife Jane, he was able to get out of bed and sit in his wheelchair. Next week, he hopes to be able to sit in the chair on his porch and possibly take a ride in the car.
“I feel thrilled — very, very lucky,” the Nets’ long-standing official scorer and member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame told The Post.
The 74-year-old Turetzky is a survivor of the pandemic, overcoming the virus that landed him in the hospital April 11-14. Though the Queens native has long needed a wheelchair to get around — Turetzky suffers from spastic paraparisis, in which his brain and the nerves to his legs don’t communicate properly — he was fortunate not to have any underlying conditions. Still, it was a scary time, with so many people his age losing their lives.
“I saw the numbers — I see them now, 91,000 people dead. I never had to get up on the ventilators,” he said. “They said that 80 percent of people that went on ventilators never came off of it. That number stuck in my head — 80 percent on ventilators never came off of it. That means they’re going to die or live on ventilators the rest of their life.”
On April 11, Turetzky felt weak and was unable to do his normal upper-body exercises from his wheelchair. He had a temperature of 102.5 degrees, and Jane immediately took him to St. Francis Hospital on Long Island. She didn’t waste any time.
“She was very vigilant and forceful, and it worked,” said Turetzky, who is uncertain how he contracted the virus, since he hasn’t left his home other than going to and from the hospital in more than two months. “I would imagine [it was] very important. If my temperature went from 102 to 104 and I had more problems from that, I would’ve been in worse shape.”
He was diagnosed with coronavirus and kept there for four days, unable to see anyone. Fortunately, the only symptoms he had were a high fever and general malaise. His hunger has gone away, and he has lost 20 pounds.
“Other than that, there was nothing major,” he said. “I just couldn’t do anything. … I watched TV and slept.”
Turetzky kept score of 1,437 consecutive Nets home games, before missing a loss to the Warriors on Oct. 28, 2018, due to a fever of over 103 degrees caused by an infection. In 1967, as a senior at LIU, he began keeping score of Nets games and became a constant, going with them from the ABA to the NBA and following them from New Jersey to Long Island, back to New Jersey and then to his home borough of Brooklyn.
It remains uncertain when the 2020-21 NBA season will begin, depending on whether the league finishes the current postponed season and, if so, how long that goes. But once the Nets return to Barclays Center next season, Turetzky said he plans to be there in his familiar spot.
“I’ll be ready for the season whenever it comes,” he said. “Absolutely no question about it. None at all.”
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