Sunday, September 16, 2007

A short look at Microfracture....A death sentence for an NBA career?

According to Wiki Research, Microfracture surgery "is an orthopedic surgical technique that can help restore knee cartilage by creating tiny fractures in the adjacent bones, causing new cartilage to develop. It can be used to treat both degenerative knee problems as well as cartilage injuries, and has gained a high profile in the sports world in recent years..The surgery is quick (taking around 30 minutes), minimally invasive, and has significantly shorter recovery times than an arthroplasty (knee replacement). Combined with a high rate of success, these factors have caused orthopedic surgeons to use the procedure with increasing frequency."

So why is it so devastating in some instances to an NBA player? Thousands of time per game, the average basketball player needs to make abrupt and sudden movements, to cut, to fake and go, to transition from offense to defense instantaneously off of a steal or long rebound. These movements directly tax the knee in particular, bearing the weight of the body for a very short period of time before the rest of the musculature compensates. Also, the knee gives a large percentage of the energy needed for explosive running and jumping movements, and if those facets were a large part of a players game, like Penny Hardaway, microfracture will almost completely rob them of their much needed mobility. Even the most successful microfracture NBA player I can think of, Amare Stoudemire, is still many degrees less explosive then he was prior to the injury. Here is the short list of NBA players who have suffered this injury (out of approximately 15):

Amare Stoudemire--status: Contributing Superstar
Jason Kidd--Contributing Superstar
Penny Hardaway--Fighting to get back in the league
Chris Webber--Shell of former self
Allan Houston--Out of the League
Jamal Mashburn--Out of the League
and now... Greg Oden---Unknown

So while statistically Greg Oden has the odds against him, chances are he will recover well enough to have a productive 10-12 year career in the league, and maybe win a rebounding title or two. So my prediction for him? Definitely not a death sentence, but horrible timing for a raw and untested rookie just coming into the league. I know he's REALLY glad the ink has dried on his endorsements and Portland Contract, huh? Of course, if they had just paid attention to a higher power,the Portland Trailblazers would have known to draft Durant instead. See picture below :).

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