The bounce-back. It is a delicate, tricky thing, and elite athletes often find that it is much harder than it looks.

Just take a look at Tiger Woods. Invincible one moment, then everything crashes. His car, his marriage, his reputation, his game, his confidence. It is tough to shove those elements back into the bottle. So he shoots a 75 on a Sunday. Unthinkable two years ago.

That is why what Elton Brand is doing this season is so remarkable. Brand has been in basketball purgatory ever since he arrived in Philadelphia in the summer of 2008. First he blew out his shoulder and missed the majority of his first season here. Then, in a much more damaging blow, Eddie Jordan sent Brand into his doghouse and never let him out.

Last season, Jordan limited Brand to season lows in games started and minutes played, and consequently Brand had career lows in every statistical category that counted - points, rebounds, blocks, assists, made field goals and field goal attempts.

Brand was done. His $80 million contract was too big. His contributions were too small. His head had to be a mess, his confidence in the cellar and his frustration at a peak.

But Brand believed in himself. It is such a great story because it is so difficult, especially on the backside of a career, to come back. Brand worked out hard all summer. He played pickup with some of the toughest guys in the league. And he realized, with an honest assessment of his game and tangible results, that Jordan was wrong. Brand had more to give.

Brand is going to be 32 years old next month. This is his 12th season. Because skills diminish and injuries mount as athletes age, it is hard to recapture early glories later in careers. Brand is doing just that. He is getting stronger as this season goes on, and while he is not close to the 20 points and 10 rebounds he averaged across entire seasons early in his career, he is getting there.

In seven games this month, Brand has averaged 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds. That is up from 15.0 points and 8.1 rebounds in January.

Brand has been able to bounce back for a number of reasons. First, he has stayed healthy. That is important, because he was unable to finish two of the last three seasons.

But the bounce-back is more complicated than just that. Brand is one of the genuine good guys in the NBA. He is a career overachiever because he works diligently at his game. He doesn't skate on raw talent but puts in the time, be it in the weight room or on the practice court.