The NBA’s compressed 66-game schedule was the epicenter of discussion in the NBA after what happened to Chicago Bulls All-Star guard Derrick Rose and New York Knicks rookie guard Iman Shumpert Saturday when they tore their ACLs within hours of each other.
A lot players feel the frenetic post-lockout pace is to blame for the rash of injuries. However, one doctor begs to differ.
“There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we’ve ever studied,” Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said in an Associated Press story.
Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that Rose and Shumpert sustained in the opening round of the playoffs, because they might lack the type of explosiveness it takes to blow out a knee ligament.
“In fact, I think if you’re tired, you’re a lot less likely to tear your ACL because you’re not going to be as explosive,” said Altchek, who has operated on players such as Josh Howard, David West and Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, and been a consultant for the NBA.
According to the league, the injury rate was about the same as in a normal 82-game season. But players say they felt a difference and the evidence is alarming: Rose missed 26 games from an assortment of injuries. A back injury put Dwight Howard out of commission for the entire playoffs. Dwyane Wade was in and out of the lineup with a sore ankle. Kobe Bryant missed eight games in April because of a shin injury. Chauncey Billups ruptured his Achilles tendon in February and probably won’t be ready for the start of the 2012-13 season.
“You can definitely look at the season and just look at the schedule and say that guys really never got the ample amount of time to rest and heal their bones because you’re fighting for playoff position,” Knicks guard Baron Davis told AP. It’s game after game after game. So, you know, it’s tough. But there’s injuries, there’s freak injuries in basketball that’s always happening.”
Alchek said ACL tears, far more common in female athletes, are scary injuries in that there’s little explanation for how to prevent them. He said the non-contact version that Rose and Shumpert sustained are often more prevalent in the strongest, healthiest athletes. Contact ACL tears, Altchek said, are the kind that can happen to a football player hit on the side of the knee. But Rose was jumping to stop when he was injured, and Shumpert was trying to maneuver with a behind-the-back dribble when he crumbled to the court.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Rose’s previous injuries or the schedule did not lead to the ACL tear.
“There really is no evidence of that, in any athlete, that wear and tear, like gradual wearing away of the ACL, is an issue in terms of the injury,” Altchek said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.