The NBA’s compressed schedule, with 66 games in four months followed by one day off before the playoffs, was tough on everyone.
Did it cause more injuries?
“Yeah, probably,” Chicago’s Joakim Noah said. “Probably.”
Unlikely, said a surgeon.
“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 Sunday.
Rose, last season’s MVP, was hurt in the final minutes of Chicago’s Game 1 victory over Philadelphia, and the Knicks’ Shumpert went down a short while later. The blame game started soon after, with many pointing the finger at the hectic post-lockout schedule.
Boston center Jermaine O’Neal, whose season ended early after wrist surgery, wrote on his Twitter page that it was a “clear sign” of fatigued bodies from a condensed season, writing “2 torn acl injuries to key players!”
But Altchek argues that too much playing could actually make a player less susceptible to the injuries that Rose and Shumpert sustained, 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.
NBA players and owners settled on a 66-game schedule starting on Christmas when they settled the lockout during Thanksgiving weekend. Though perhaps ambitious, both sides saw it as a way to make back as much lost revenue as possible.
Spokesman Tim Frank said that with respect to the season, the league had “ongoing discussions with team doctors and athletic trainers about best practices and planning for injuries.”
The revised schedule amounted to about two extra games a month for teams, from 14 to 16. Though the league said the injury rate was about the same as in a normal 82-game season, players say they felt a difference.
“This has been a compressed season, a lot more games, a lot less practice time, a lot less recovery time,” Knicks guard Baron Davis said. “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. 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.”
They’ve knocked out players such as Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Andrew Bogut, Jeremy Lin and Stephen Curry, but most were injuries that could come from excessive usage, such as sprains and strains.