In Street Clothes...
By Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert
The Charlotte Bobcats have been down one of their leading scorers for the last week and maybe a bit longer. Gerald Wallace missed most of the second half of last Friday's game with a foot injury that was originally reported to be an ankle sprain. Recently we learned it's a strain, which is an injury to a muscle – a sprain affects ligaments. Unfortunately, there isn't much more information available, so you would expect him to miss at least a week, maybe two. He is questionable for tonight's game versus New Jersey, but with the All Star game approaching, and a few off days lined up, I would think they'll be more cautious than that. One of the risks you take when a player has pain in one of his lower extremities, no matter how little, is that it changes his form when running and jumping. Basically, athletes put more pressure on other structures (usually in the opposite leg or foot) to protect the injury, which can lead to a slew of problems from acute ankle and knee sprains to chronic tendonitis of all kinds. There's not a lot for the Bobcats to play for at this point, so why risk significant injury to one of their top guys?
Caron Butler and Ben Gordon both make this column again after aggravating existing injuries. Butler wasn't himself in two games earlier this week, scoring only 15 and eight before leaving the floor again with a left hip flexor strain on Tuesday night. After missing Wednesday's loss to the Spurs, it's being reported that he's out until after the All-Star break. As I said last week, muscle strains like this are always something to watch out for as they can linger if you return too soon. Apparently, Butler did, and now the Wizards are paying the price. Gordon also returned to the court earlier this week and seemed fine, putting up big scoring numbers in both games, but he was a late scratch from the Bulls lineup Wednesday night and reported that the pain and stiffness he suffered from last week is not completely gone. He thought he could get by, but now will see another specialist to rule out any significant injury. All testing to this point has revealed no major structural damage, but again, a wrist sprain to a scoring guard is difficult to manage. Hopefully all this needs is more time.
Michael Redd has missed more time than originally expected with left knee strain. His injury is to his patella tendon, which connects the large quad muscles to the tibia of the lower leg. A strain in this area is severely limiting for any athlete, but especially a basketball player because of the high volume of power running and jumping involved in the sport. He's missed some time with similar injuries the last few years so my feeling is that he's being cautious, and wants to be completely healed before he returns. You can be sure he's getting all the appropriate treatment – heat application, massage, stretching, and strengthening exercises, but he still may be out a few more games. The Bucks' next game is Saturday night against the Knicks, then two more games at home next week before the All-Star break, but then they don't play again until February 20th. It's possible he'll be back before then, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him hold off until then. We'll look at this situation again next week.
In what's really the best news of the season so far for me, TJ Ford is back playing with the Raptors. We've detailed his shoulder and neck injuries a few times, but after questions were asked if he would ever play again, he returned to the court Monday with 17 minutes of action against Miami and should make realistic contributions the rest of the way. The bottom line is you never want to see a player with so much promise end his careers because of an injury. Obviously he's not completely out of the woods yet, but considering where he came from, it looks like a good start.
Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.