Portland's Worst Fears Confirmed: Greg Oden Has Microfracture SurgeryThe nightmare scenario involving the ghosts of Bill Walton and Sam Bowie has indeed happened: Greg Oden's exploratory knee surgery revealed further damage that required him to have microfracture surgery. Based on the recovery and rehabilitation time that is typically involved with this procedure, Oden will likely miss the entire 2007-08 season.
The Portland Trail Blazers issued a statement that read, in part:
Greg had an arthroscopy and a micro fracture surgery today," said team physician Dr. Don Roberts, who preformed the surgery. "He was found to have articular cartilage damage in his right knee. The area of injury was not large and we were able to treat it with micro fracture, which stimulates the growth of cartilage. There are things about this that are positive for Greg. First of all he is young. The area where the damage was is small and the rest of his knee looked normal. All those are good signs for a complete recovery from micro fracture surgery.
As I explained in two previous posts about microfracture surgery (which can be found here and here), "the surgeon actually punctures (fractures/breaks) the patient's kneecap, with the idea being that this will stimulate the development of scar tissue that will replace the damaged, non-functioning cartilage." Except for Jason Kidd and Amare Stoudemire, most of the players that I know of who have had this procedure do not perform as well afterwards as they did previously but, as Oden's surgeon suggested, Oden's youth and the relatively small nature of his injury work in his favor; many of the players who did not fare so well after having microfracture surgery were older athletes who had sustained more severe knee injuries and whose knees already had undergone a lot of wear and tear.
Still, there is no getting around that this is a devastating blow to Oden and Portland and that Oden has a lot of rehabilitation work ahead of him before he can be a productive NBA player. If Oden is not able to play this season then he will become just the second number one overall pick since 1966 to not play in the NBA in the year that he was selected; in 1987, David Robinson did not join the San Antonio Spurs because he had to fulfill his commitment to the Navy. However, there have been several number one overall picks whose rookie seasons were impacted in some way by injuries, including future All-Stars Bob Lanier, Doug Collins and Bill Walton. Lanier actually did not miss a game during his first season but he was playing hurt and he told me, "In hindsight, what we should have done--if I had had any sense and if there was some sophistication with the powers that be way back then in Detroit--is have me sit out the first half of the season, at least, and just worked on getting my knee right, getting the swelling down, strengthening it up. But rehab wasn’t as sophisticated then and there was so much pressure to get Bob Lanier out there playing--even on one knee--because I was a No. 1 draft choice and because Detroit was a fledgling team. I think, consequently, because of that I had so many problems with my knees over the years because I started out my career that way as opposed to really getting myself together." Hopefully, Oden's microfracture procedure and rehabilitation will be 100% successful and in 2008-09 he will make a return like Stoudemire did in 2006-07.
posted by David Friedman @ 4:32 PM