Brook Lopez also says he’s 100% healthy and that his offseason surgery was preventative. #Nets
— The Brooklyn Game (@TheBKGame) September 30, 2013
Brook Lopez would have made a great Boy Scout. He’s always prepared, and he probably could have outwrestled a bear by the time he was 10 — 11 tops.
The preventative surgery to which Lopez refers took place back in June, a “minor procedure” to replace the screw that helped to secure his fifth metatarsal (the bone to which your little toe is attached). The screw had become bent, likely causing Lopez a great bit of pain and discomfort during any kind of athletic activity. Apparently it’s not exactly rare for this to happen, especially in basketball players; there’s a study from 1996 examining the exact same type of post-surgery problems in a collegiate basketball player. Unfortunately, that college basketball player refractured the metatarsal upon landing awkwardly after an offseason jump shot, sustaining a sprained ankle at the same time.
No two injuries are the same, though, not even a second fracture of the same bone. For this college basketball player, there were additional foot maladies that exacerbated the primary problem. Doctors also inserted a larger diameter screw in place of the original, bent one they replaced, which may have caused increase stress on the bone; there’s no indication this was the case with Lopez. And that’s where the preventative nature of modern basketball medicine will hopefully keep Lopez healthy and on the court. Contemporary strength and conditioning staffs understand the importance of taking whole-system and whole-body views when it comes to diagnosing and treating injuries. An injury to the foot is about more than treating just a broken bone or a torn ligament. Rehabilitation must factor in the way the body will compensate across a number of different skeletal and muscular groupings to bear the weight without causing further injury, and it must treat the resultant strains and their underlying causes. It seems likely that the aforementioned college player simply did not receive that kind of extensive medical care, while Lopez will. That’s not to say that Lopez is guaranteed another of the 82-game seasons that used to be his calling card. Injuries happen, and repeated stress to the same body part is never a good thing. And there’s a certain ominous foreboding in the similarities between these two stories, as anecdotal and coincidental as they may be. But it seems silly to stress too much about the connection between an anonymous college player from almost 20 years ago and the health of the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets.
And health will undoubtedly be one of the major stories for the Nets this season. It’s the veterans, however, that should — again, hopefully — be the question marks, not Brookie Monster* and Deron Williams. If you’re a Nets fan, and you feel some perverse desire to fret about something, worry about how Kevin Garnett will adapt to sitting out so many games (though I’m not holding my breath that he’ll “probably” sit out the second night of most back-to-backs). Worry about how much of Paul Pierce and Jason Terry you’re truly getting, and how often you’ll be getting them. Worry about whether or not you’re getting the Andrei Kirilenko for whom everyone seems so excited.
Or, if you prefer, sit back and don’t worry about anything. You have question marks. So does every team. Even the Miami Heat are staring down the barrel of age-related question marks, if not to the same degree as the Nets. Health might be an issue for Brooklyn this season, but it’s the kind of issue that comes with banking your chances on a group of veterans who know a thing or two about keeping a window propped up long enough to perpetrate a jewelry heist.
It’s the preseason, the time to dream of Brook devouring open space in the lane, of KG sinking 18-footers, of JET annoying friend and foe alike with his airplane antics. September is Paul Pierce elbow cuts; October paints a portrait of Joe Johnson game-winners and Deron Williams pick-and-roll.
Panicking is for January.
Image by A.M. Kuchling via Flickr