Raptors’ Khem Birch confirms COVID hit him and his family – Toronto Sun

Author of the article:

Mike Ganter

Raptors centre Khem Birch says he and his family were battling COVID-19.
Raptors centre Khem Birch says he and his family were battling COVID-19. Photo by Kevin Jairaj /USA TODAY Sports / Files

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Khem Birch is back on the floor after he, his wife and his daughter all contracted COVID-19.

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The Raptors centre and his family arrived in Toronto on Sept. 18 to begin ramping up for the season but a week later the whole family was felled by the virus.

“I lost my smell and a little bit of fatigue. But I think I can come back,” Birch said. “I feel good now. I think game shape is different, just not playing.”

All three affected were doubly vaccinated and Birch is sure that lessened the seriousness of the virus for himself and his family.

While Birch only lost his sense of smell, his wife lost both smell and taste. Both were hit by the fatigue that comes with the virus. But Birch’s daughter had no symptoms. “My daughter was perfect,” Birch said.

What this means for Birch’s role going forward with the Raptors remains to be seen.

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Obviously he’ll need some time to get back into game shape, although watching him on zoom following the morning shootaround he still looks like an imposing physical specimen.

While Birch says he has no issues starting or coming off the bench as long as the team is winning, the belief is when he is back up to full speed, he’ll be out there as the defensive anchor in that starting five.

Two things suggest that could very well happen by opening night.

First,Birch will have a full week of practice between the final pre-season game and opening night next Wednesday. He also happens to be a guy who catches up pretty quickly.

“I usually get in shape quick,” Birch said. “Luckily after these two games we have a whole week of practices before our first game. Right now I’m just gonna go out and play as hard as I can, not worry about the box score, just worry about getting the W.”

mganter@postmedia.com

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