Okay, so we’ve all been around the block a few times now about Sean May and Adam Morrison and their knee injuries, rehab, and of late their game play (or lack thereof). So, I got to thinking… Certainly these two are not the first players to undergo major knee surgery, so lets explore some other players and how things went for them…
First we’ll explore the ACL tear side of things. Basically an ACL tear involves tearing one of the smallest, but most important, ligaments in the knee. The ACL stabilizes the knee so that when a person makes a quick break left or right, front or back, the knee stays together and our legs don’t fall off J Adam injured his knee in a preseason game last year and underwent surgery quickly thereafter. How does his recovery and first year back compare, lets see shall we?
Denver’s Nene suffered an ACL tear in November of 2005. He was out the entire 05-06 season due to the surgery which followed and the typical rehab which we all witnessed Adam experience. So how’d he do when he returned? In 2006-2007 he played in 64 games with 42 starts and had career high FG%, FT%, RPG, tied a career high of 0.9 blocks per game and posted a career high 12.2 points/game. He also started in all 5 playoff games and put up 15.2 points in his failed efforts to carry the Nuggets past the first round. He soon thereafter had a scare with cancer and had another season without much play, but this season he is again lighting up the box score with 15.1 points and 8.2 rebounds, and has started every game this season.
In 1988, First overall pick Danny Manning of the Clippers tore his ACL and underwent surgery after just 26 games. He returned in the 89-90 season, but didn’t achieve the status he’s pick would normally carry until 1992-1993 when he was finally selected for the All Star Game. He is also one of only 2 players to have reconstructive surgery on both knees and still return to play (Amare Stoudamire being the other). The thing that is most important to note is that he started 88-89 with 16.7 ppg, and achieved 16.3 ppg in his return 89-90 season.
These injuries are not only in the NBA, Cheryl Ford of the WNBA also suffered a similar ACL injury in 2008 during a riot at a game against the Sparks.
Some other players for you to look up with ACL tears include Patrick Ewing, Ron Harper and Amare Stoudamire. Currently Michael Redd is out with an ACL tear and Andrew Bynum is out with an MCL tear, which is quite similar and karma works.
Now let us explore the world of Microfracture surgery, where the doctors literally break the bone surface of the knee hoping scar tissue and new bone growth are better than the lack of cartilage they are treating. Sean May spent his rehab chowing on cheeseburgers and not keeping in cardiovascular shape, and has been handed an ultimatum: Lose weight or don’t play. In the 5 weeks following this ultimatum it is estimated he has lost 3-4 pounds, so sad… But lets focus on the rest of the NBA for a moment…
Greg Oden is the biggest name, and probably one of the biggest players to undergo microfracture surgery, and his play this year stands self evident that a comeback from that surgery is certainly possible in every way if a player desires to come back.
Zach Randolph of the Kni — er — Clippers has long suffered with knee issues and underwent a microfracture procedure in 2005. He had an okay season after a short rehab, but the following season he lit it up with career highs in scoring, assists, and 3PT%.
Some other players who have had microfracture and gone on to great things include Kenyon Martin, Jason Kidd, John Stockton and Darius Miles. There is one player who is coming along from his microfracture surgery worse than Sean May, as sad as it is, and that would be Gilbert Arenas. He had surgery in a similar time frame as Sean May, but has had several follow up surgeries since that time and some are wondering if he’ll ever play again. I say at least they can wonder, we all know how doubtful Sean May’s situation is.
I guess in summary I’m trying to say that the surgery is not an excuse, but merely a crutch, as many players have had career best seasons the year or two following such a surgery. Take it how you will, your mileage may vary.