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, Chris Webber, and even Gale Sayers comes to mind.
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 as the dreaded micro-fracture surgery, but there is a possibility that this could lead to more knee surgery just a few years 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 surfaces of the knee would be bone-on-bone, 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.
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 great.