Kyrie Irving Injury: Is Rising Point Guard Injury-Prone or Just Unlucky?
If you're a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, you've already heard the news: star point guard Kyrie Irving will be out for the next month thanks to a fractured index finger on his left hand. It's terrible news for the Cavs, but even worse news for everybody hoping to watch some fun late-game heroics from Kyrie on the NBA's League Pass.
Every Cavs game for the next month will go as follows, with little variation: Cleveland falls behind by a few points in the first, gets blown out as their bench starts the second quarter, hangs around for a bit in the second and third as Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters refuse to let anyone else touch the ball, the bench comes back in in the fourth and completely falls apart and Waiters chucks three-pointers for the rest of the game.
It's going to be painful to watch, it's not going to result in many wins for the Cavs, but hey, at least they've got a shot at a decent lottery pick in a halfway decent draft. A stroke of luck could land them a strange name like Shabazz or Nerlens to add to the roster.
That's not the real issue at hand, however. Cleveland's slow start made it seem as if it were highly unlikely they would be making the playoffs in the first place. Sure, they had Kyrie, but the only thing else they could boast was Varejao and a sometimes effective Waiters. Other than that, they have a terrible basketball team.
The question that does arise, however, is whether or not the future of Cleveland's success and their new favorite son, Irving, is an injury-prone basketball player.
On the surface that definitely seems to be the case. Since December of 2010, Irving has damaged toe ligaments in his right big toe, suffered a concussion, sprained his shoulder, broke his right hand and fractured his left index finger.
If we're going strictly by the book, I would call that injury prone. He suffered five injuries in the span of two years that will cause him to either miss playing time or have him in some sort of a cast. That's not a great situation for Irving, the Cavs or their fans.
However, the circumstances surrounding each injury tells a different story.
His first injury came back when he was at Duke, and it came on a pretty normal baseline cut. What happened was an injury so strange that Duke's associate head coach Chris Collins couldn't really simplify it.
Basically it amounted to super-deep turf toe that had some bone and ligament damage rolled in with it. It was a serious injury, so we can't really write it off, but Irving has yet to have any toe-related issues since.
Next there was the concussion. Irving fell backward onto Dwyane Wade's knee in a game against the Heat in February. He bonked his head and was held out of the next few games with a concussion. That was more of a freak occurrence than anything else.
Then there was the sprained shoulder near the end of the season. It came at a time when the Cavs were embroiled in a long losing streak near the end of the season, so keeping him out of action was as much precaution as it was ambivalence to the situation. It was a few tweaks here and there and nothing more.
Over the summer, during a practice Irving was upset with himself for not making a pass, and as his momentum took him out of bounds he slapped the padded wall. The slap broke his hand. It wasn't something that was related to any past injury or caused by any kind of legitimate weakness besides his own frustration.
The most recent injury is to his other hand, as he fractured his index finger in a game against the Mavericks. It's serious in that it will keep him out for an extended period of time, but not so serious that he couldn't play with it the next day against the 76ers.
He's staying out of the game in order to avoid possibly injuring the finger further, possibly developing a problem with the finger down the line.
Looking at these problems separately it's easy to say they're all somewhat strange and isolated incidents, and because of that it seems more apt to call Kyrie unlucky rather than injury-prone.
It's not like he's Greg Oden continually hurting the same region of his body, he's had all five injuries come in five different locations. Perhaps he's made entirely of glass, but it seems too early to say that with certainty.
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