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Knee Issues Could Potentially Hinder NBA Future of All-Star Paul

Posted by RichieZ23 on February 26, 2010


The human knee is quite possibly the most important part of the body in any form of physical athletics. Notice how I said physical, as poker is not a sport, regardless of whether it is on ESPN or not. Football, basketball, and soccer may be the three most demanding sports on the knee.

When you think about it, the elements and function of the knee are quite amazing: four bones operating together within an area of tendons, ligaments and cartilage.

However, think about how many high-profile athletes that have either had their careers shortened by knee injuries, or suffered a severe, or somewhat-severe knee injury and just weren’t the same player since.

Penny Hardaway comes to mind.  Chris Webber as well.  Even Gale Sayers. 

All three had knee issues in their career, and saw their careers spiral downwards as a direct result.

Recently in the NBA we’ve seen leading assist-man and best point guard in the league Chris Paul, sustain a knee injury that could potentially put him on a path similar to Penny or C-Web later in his career.

While he is under the age of 25, the injury still leaves reason to be concerned for future effects.

Surgery removed torn meniscus

The six-foot Paul of the New Orleans Hornets  is expected to miss 6-8 weeks after his Feb. 4  successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee by the infamous Dr. James Andrews. However Andrews removed the torn meniscus, he did not repair it.  This is not as serious of an operation as the ever-dreaded micro-fracture surgery, but there is a possibility that this could lead to more knee surgery just a not too long down the road.

The meniscus plays a key part in helping the knee function. The meniscus is a pad of cartilage that acts like a shock absorber, absorbing the knee. The meniscus is also vital for knee stability. When the meniscus is damaged or is surgically removed, the knee-joint can become loose, or unstable. Without the protection and stability of a healthy meniscus, the joints of the knee are a bone-on-bone scenario, essentially the same problem that leads to micro-fracture surgery.

Paul’s game is heavily reliant on his quickness and explosiveness — beating his opponent with his first step. Paul will most likely have to alter his game a bit after the surgery, and while he still be able to ball against several players in the league, he will lose some explosiveness due to the surgery(ies)

There are two menisci in each knee however Paul now only has one in his left knee, creating a partial bone-on-bone grinding situation in the knee. Paul may very well fully recover this year, and may not feel the effects for a few years.

Chris Paul may lose some of his explosiveness due to a meniscectomy, and partial bone-on-bone wear on the joint. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)

I’m not suggesting that Paul will become a below-average player. However, with bone-on-bone in the knee, surgery could indeed be needed again at some point, only this time Paul is not going to be 24.

Micro fracture surgery is a possible combatant for high-shock bone-on-bone scenarios in athletes, as the procedure involves digging microscopic holes in the bone, prompting blood flow and the stimulation of bone marrow.  This leads to the growth of fibrous cartilage, which is the shock absorbing cartilage present in menisci.

Not only will Paul be playing without part of his meniscus in his left knee (therefore over-stressing the remaining portions) but he could possibly undergo micro-fracture surgery down the road to help in the creation of cartilage in the knee.

Paul will have to change his game a bit, to more of a set jump-shot instead of dribble-penetration, and creating offense from sheer athleticism.

Paul is easily one of my favorite players in all of the NBA, and it’s possible he makes a full recovery.  However, with the importance of the knee in professional basketball and the style of game that Paul plays, the injury he suffered back on Jan. 29 could end up hindering his performance and career to somewhat of a significance beyond just this season as he attempts his comeback.

However, great players are able to find ways to adjust and make it work.

And make no mistake about it, Chris Paul is one of the greatest in the NBA today.

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24 Responses to “Knee Issues Could Potentially Hinder NBA Future of All-Star Paul”

  1. Josh Q said

    Very insightful. Maybe it’s just our culture’s obsession with sports lately, but with all the injury information floating around, it’s crazy to think how much these guys are damaging their bodies. Think about how common it has become to hear about surgery to remove fluid or bone pieces from the knee (getting it cleaned out).

    I was reading a story that was talking about knee injuries in basketball being a product of too much stress before the body has fully developed. Its not surprising to see athletes who jumped from high school to the nba having so many injury troubles around 30 years old (KG, Kobe this year, TMac). Maybe requiring college first isn’t such a bad idea. At least then these athletes are limited in the number of mandatory team events required.

  2. Josh Q said

    Not to kick Chris Paul while he’s down, but I am starting to wonder if a portion of his success is due to a point guard friendly scheme. Not to say he isn’t still a great player. But I wonder if he may be a little overrated. Look at what rookie Darren Collison has done in his absence over the last 5 games.

    Assists Points
    3 35
    15 10
    14 17
    2 32
    20 16

    He doesn’t look like he’s leap years behind Paul in talent. Maybe its just an aberration. Or maybe Collison is underrated. But, it does make you think.

    • weinish said

      chris paul’s success has nothing to do with it being a “point friendly” offense. the offense is what it is because chris paul is on the team. he’s pretty much unstoppable when healthy. if you watched him in college you’d know.

      however, if you’re the knicks, you avoid this guy. he’s not going to last. not the way he plays, and not with that knee. almost a guarantee.

  3. RichieZ23 said

    I dont think he’s overrated, I think that Darren Collison is simply a very, very good point guard as well. The Hornets made a great selection in last years draft. The Hornets do run a PG-friendly offense with their floor spacing allowing for the PG to make plays, but I think Collison is simply a really good player.

    He’s been playing like that for more than the last five games…In his first start after Pauls knee Injury he put up 17 and 18. I think Chris Paul needs to get into coaching when his career is over, because he has been in Collison’s ear every second giving him nuggets of advice.

    The good news is its not like the Hornets have any superstar at the 2 spot, so when Paul comes back, they’d be able to slide both of them in the lineup, and get out and run if they wanted to. They also have some MAJOR ammunition this summer if they want to pull a sign and trade, or just a trade.

    With Paul being my favorite/second favorite player in the league, I’ve been watching this situation.

    • Josh Q said

      I knew Collison was good back at UCLA, and maybe its just that he’s extremely smart. He played on 3 final 4 teams I think. Maybe it’s just that experience. He just seems so polished. A little inconsistent, but I definitely think he was a steal. He’d be my ROY candidate if he had played the entire year.

      I was just wondering because I knew Paul made great strides between college and the NBA. I wondered if he just landed in the right spot (kind of like when Nash made it over to the Suns). He wasn’t near as prolific on the Mavs.

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