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Friday, October 31, 2014

2013 Report Card: Amar’e Stoudemire

Amar’e Stoudemire started the 2013 season hurt. According to the New York Times, “it was unclear if Stoudemire was injured during the Knicks’ game against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, the only time he has played this preseason, or if his knee worsened over time.”

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real

STAT played his first game of the season on January 1st, and his last regular season game on March 7th. There was no indication that he was injured on a specific play against the Thunder. There was no play where he came up limping. No SportsCenter cringe worthy collision. Yet, it was reported that Amar’e felt soreness in his right knee on March 9th, and had surgery on the 11th. By all accounts he was to return from this procedure in 6 weeks, which would have been Monday, April 21st. However, Stoudemire didn’t get back on the court until May 11th. Almost 9 weeks.

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

Amar’e missing his timetable for return shouldn’t have been a surprise to Knick fans. This wasn’t the first time the MSG crew under reported an injured knee. Just the year before on March 26th, New York reported that Jeremy Lin was “day-to-day” for their game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Shortly after, Lin had surgery on his knee, and didn’t return to the Knicks for the regular season or playoffs.

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

Stoudemire’s procedure was an arthroscopic debridement of the knee. Seems legit, right? Well maybe not. Two studies, one in 2002 and another in 2008, were lukewarm on this type of surgery having anything more than a placebo effect.

You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

To get a further understanding of arthroscopic debridement of the knee, I spoke with Dr. David T. Neuman, an orthopedic surgeon at NY Sportscare. He noted that those pessimistic studies were based on “an older age group” and required a more careful reading. Dr. Neuman explained that “the surgery, if done within 6 months of a traumatic event to the knee, was more likely to be successful.” For instance if a person hurt their knee from a single event and the procedure was performed within a half year of that event, it had a greater chance of being effective.

I wear this crown of sh*t
Upon my liar’s chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair

However the converse is true as well. If the injury was older or if it was to relieve general pain “debridement surgery is unlikely to give a long term benefit.” According to Dr. Neuman, “debridement” is often used as an umbrella term which could indicate a number of different actions may have been taken. It could be as minor as a simple removal of debris in the knee, or something more advanced such as repairing cartilage by fracturing the bone (also known as microfracture surgery).

Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

Dr. Neuman indicated that 6 weeks would be sufficient time to return from debris removal, especially given the rigorous rehab that athletes go through. I asked if it were a possible scenario that Stoudemire received this surgery knowing it wouldn’t likely be successful in the hopes that he would have made it back for the playoffs. Dr. Neuman said this was possible, especially given Stoudemire’s importance to the team at this critical time of year.

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

From my non-medically trained mind, it’s likely that this surgery was a shot in the dark attempt to cure the Knicks’ forward, which was ineffective. Consider the lack of a single traumatic event, the slow recovery time for an athlete, and the uncertain effectiveness of debridement knee surgery.

You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

It should be fairly obvious that the Knicks share my skepticism of Stoudemire’s health. Why else hand over Novak, a first, Camby, Richardson, and a Shake Shack wrapper for Bargnani? Amar’e and Andrea have the same strengths and weaknesses so it doesn’t make much sense to overlap those skills. Not when the Knicks could use a rebounder/defender to give Chandler a chance to put his feet up every now and then. Additionally, it’s not feasible to play A&A at the same time, at least not against an opponent with a pulse.

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

So when the 2014 season starts in a few months, we’ll be left with the same question as last year. Has Amar’e Stoudemire’s “knee worsened over time?” Actually I think we already have the answer.

Grades (5 point scale):
Offense: Incomplete
Defense: Unknown
Teamwork: More Information Needed
Rootability: AWOL
Performance/Expectations: Divide By Zero Error
Final Grade: Absent

Lyrics by Trent Reznor
Guitar by Trent Reznor
Drums by Trent Reznor
Surgery by Trent Reznor

86 comments on “2013 Report Card: Amar’e Stoudemire

  1. Nick C.

    Anything from Amare is found money at this point. But he was very good in the low post after the first few games. Wishful thinking has him as a major weapon that can wreak havoc against the teams that don’t have a big to defend him ie: everyone in the east but Indy and Chicago. The flip is another 20 games, 5-7 of which are full of fumbles as he gets up to speed, followed by another surgery or disabled list (is there on in the NBA).

  2. SeeWhyDee77

    Not like its anyone left on the market that’s worth it at this point, but what if Stat retires ala H20? Does that number come off the books? I can’t remember. But maybe that’s what the endgame is, if Stat really can’t recover. I hope he can becuz he looked really nice in the post. I think he started playing like a traditional big. It really made me happy to see him kinda lumbering down the court, in a nostalgic way. I think Stat finally realizes he can be unstoppable in the paint with his leftover athleticism and touch. It would be sad to se him completely break down. So *knocking on every piece of wood I can find* here’s to Stat having season full of rejuvenation, 25 mpg, 15 ppg, 8rpg, 1bpg, 2apg, whilst playing 70 games and the entire playoffs *knocks on earlier stated wood once more for good measure*

  3. Hubert

    Great work, Mike. Particularly on reaching out to Dr. Neuman. I’ve read so many basketball-related articles on the knee debridement procedure and most of the writer’s never take the time to actually understand what they’re telling us about.

  4. Frank

    Nice work reaching out to Dr. Neuman Mike– but this is what I would say about this. I’m not an orthopedic surgeon, but I do have some experience with these kinds of studies that you’re talking about– and my takeaway from those studies is just like what Dr. Neuman said:

    1) studies looking at 50+ year old non-athletes that don’t have constant/dedicated access to a team of trained professionals — MDs, physical therapists, trainers, etc. cannot be extrapolated to 30 year old highly-trained professional athletes. These 50+ year olds probably are fatter, less motivated, have less time for rehab, don’t have access to PEDs, and are obviously just older. Professional athletes also have access to the highest quality surgeons, which your average 58 year old may not have.

    2) every knee injury is slightly different even if they’re called the same thing. Even if on average there may be no statistical benefit for surgery for all kinds of debridement, it doesn’t mean that some kinds of debridement don’t work– ie. the classic signal lost in the noise.

    3) every patient recovers slightly (or dramatically) differently even if given the same rehab.

    4) even taking into account #2, each patient probably functions best as his own best prognostic measure — what I mean by that is he had a similar procedure on his left knee, which apparently was fine after the surgery in October and was not an issue during the season.

    In the final analysis, I’m not sure the studies linked to have anything other than passing relevance at all to Amare. I’m not saying that he’ll bounce back and be Amare from 2005, but it’s definitely not beyond the realm of possibility that he’ll be the Amare of Jan-Mar 2013 next year.

  5. Z-man

    Some random musings:

    Current roster:
    Melo
    Chandler
    Metta
    Shump
    Felton
    JR
    Amare
    Bargs
    Prigs
    THJ
    Leslie (?)

    Backup PG: BBrown? Telfair?
    Backup C: KMart? Tyler? Jordan?

    Looking at this roster, the following concerns emerge:
    1. Lack of depth at true C. Chandler will have to play too many minutes and will inevitably break down. While there are no Olajuwans and Ewings out there, lots of teams have true bigs that can’t really be handled by smaller C’s (i.e. KMart, STAT, Bargs)

    Bynum (if healthy)
    Hibbert
    Lopez
    Howard
    Gasol
    Noah
    Pekovic
    McGee
    Drummond
    Bogut
    Cousins

    2. Defending quick penetrating PGs
    This was a weakness last year that hasn’t been fixed. Shump is not a PG, so he can help but is not the answer here.

    3. Rebounding
    Bargs doesn’t help. MWP helps some but not enough. KMart helps, but at the cost of offense. This will be where the Nets really hurt us, especially with their ability to bring AK47, Evans and Blatche off the bench.

  6. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Frank,

    This reminds of a joke I tell from time to time. Do you know what they call alternative medicine that is clinically proven to work? Medicine.

    It just kinda blew my mind that there’s a surgery out there which, to the best of my understanding, the evidence at hand may indicate that it’s no better than placebo. And that million dollar athletes are getting this surgery. Yes debridement is an umbrella term which means lots of things could happen, but not knowing which ones work and which ones don’t is problematic. In other words it’s possible that some types of these surgeries work, for some people, but we don’t know which type Amar’e got and if his case is one of those it would work on.

    I’m not concerned of the level of play Amar’e can give. That has never seemed to be an issue (besides for when he hurt his back).

    What I’m concerned is the amount of play Amar’e can handle.

    After speaking with the good doctor, it seemed to me that Amar’e inability to come back in the proper time frame was a bad sign. He did indicate on multiple occasions that it’s hard to play doctor without having all the facts, but I found this to be difficult to explain otherwise.

  7. Z-man

    True Frank, but on the other hand, most people in the study probably do not have a job that depends nearly entirely on the health of their knees, and did not have to worry about matching up physically with some of the world’s tallest, fastest, strongest and highest jumping athletes on a nightly basis. The people in the study are merely concerned with walking around doing routine daily activities without pain.

    Maybe Allan Houston’s microfracture surgery was a success by normal standards, just not for a professional athlete.

  8. lavor postell

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9501245/nba-offseason-moves-assessing-winners-tankers-everything-between

    New York Knicks

    “The Bargnani trade wasn’t so bad in pure basketball terms. He doesn’t rebound or defend, but the Knicks had zero resources to sign any quality players beyond their own (injured) free agents. Bargnani could fit well with the Carmelo Anthony–Tyson Chandler pairing, perhaps without compromising the general “Melo at power forward” structure that made New York so potent last season. The Knicks can mimic that structure even with Melo as the nominal “small forward” by playing a true stretch power forward — a second big man who does very little but spot up behind the 3-point arc. In that alignment, Melo can go to the block against a smaller wing player with Bargnani dragging a big man far from the rim, much as Melo did with smaller lineups when opponents hid one of their big men on Jason Kidd or Iman Shumpert.

    But New York is going to blow away the luxury tax again, and the ability of both Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony to terminate their deals and enter free agency next summer will likely result in a double blow for New York — Anthony opting out and commanding a $100 million–plus max contract as he approaches his 30th birthday, and Stoudemire opting in for 2014-15 at the laughable price of $23.4 million.”

    There are things I can understand being upset about with the Bargnani trade, especially if you think he is an unsalvageable wreck of a player, but I can’t agree with Lowe on the implication of the financials. The Knicks were just valued at $1.1 billion and are finishing the renovation of the Garden with demand rising along with ticket prices. In the event Amar’e opts in and Melo signs for the max 5-year, $130 million, I won’t be pissed that Dolan has to front a massive luxury tax bill for one year, I’ll just be pissed we maxed out Melo and locked him up until his mid-30’s.

  9. lavor postell

    Would STAT be the most loved Knick ever if he battles injuries again this season and in an act of good faith opted out of his deal? What does that do for the Knicks? Then you can dream about Melo and Lebron correct?

  10. flossy

    Totally outside of either statistical analysis or medical prognostication, I will be pretty damn upset if the sum total of Amar’e’s tenure with the Knicks amounts to one good year and a four year descent into uselessness. He was one of my favorite players to watch c. 2005 (much more so than Carmelo), and just seems like a fundamentally decent guy. I know we offered him a max deal and many teams didn’t (not that I think he couldn’t have gotten at least almost as much elsewhere), but it just feels like being the first elite player to embrace the responsibility of lifting this franchise out of the toilet should earn a man some good karma, not four years of being overshadowed and scapegoated. I have a more generous view of Mike D’Antoni than most, but I wish I could go back in time and slap him for those 40-minute games Amar’e was playing in the fall of 2010.

    Anyway, what I hope for from Amar’e at this point is basically to replicate what Bob McAdoo did for the Lakes from ’81-’85 (while he was 30-33 years old). Didn’t start any games, but was a focal point of the offense off the bench (usage between 23-27%, scored between 19-25 pts/36 and averaged 20 mpg).

    McAdoo was pretty fragile, if I recall, but he was a real contributor to good Laker teams, and I think if Amar’e can muster the 1200-1600ish minutes he played during those seasons he has the potential to be better than McAdoo, given that he’s a fundamentally much more efficient scorer.

    Will that be worth $20m/year? No, but it would please me if he could stay with this team and contribute, and earn back a bit of the goodwill that has dissipated since he started missing so many games.

  11. lavor postell

    flossy,

    Completely agree. I still remember STAT beasting on Tim Duncan (offensively) in the 2005 WCF. He did embrace New York as much as getting the 5-year max sealed the deal. If we can see him carve out a prominent scoring niche as the lynchpin of the bench, I would be happy for the Knicks, but even more so for Amar’e.

  12. Z-man

    Flossy
    I like the McAdoo comparison. Different games but could have a similar role and impact. McAdoo was more of a perimeter player.

  13. Brian Cronin

    Great response by Shump. That said, it seems weird that the Twitter account was suspended. Are parody accounts really not allowed?

  14. Hubert

    flossy:
    I will be pretty damn upset if the sum total of Amar’e’s tenure with the Knicks amounts to one good year and a four year descent into uselessness.He was one of my favorite players to watch c. 2005, and just seems like a fundamentally decent guy.I know we offered him a max deal and many teams didn’t (not that I think he couldn’t have gotten at least almost as much elsewhere), but it just feels like being the first elite player to embrace the responsibility of lifting this franchise out of the toilet should earn a man some good karma, not four years of being overshadowed and scapegoated.I have a more generous view of Mike D’Antoni than most, but I wish I could go back in time and slap him for those 40-minute games Amar’e was playing in the fall of 2010…

    …it would please me if he could stay with this team and contribute, and earn back a bit of the goodwill that has dissipated since he started missing so many games.

    Agree with this whole-heartedly.

    I knew the 5 year contract was bad business, but those first 3 months as a Knick were some of the most exciting times I’ve had supporting a team. I’ll never forget that Celtics game at the Garden. I know his 3 pointer to win it didn’t count, but I saw it go in and that’s all that mattered to me!

    The 9 straight 30 point games were amazing.

    On Thanksgiving 2010, after his ridiculous game saving rejection of Gerald Wallace’s dunk attempt the previous night in Charlotte (google that if you never saw it), I made my family give thanks for Amar’e Stoudemire.

    When we smoked Derrick Rose’s Bulls on Christmas a month later, I told my girlfriend my first born male is going to be named Amar’e and if she isn’t cool with that she should leave me now.

    I hope it ends better for him. He’s been all class since day 1.

  15. Hubert

    flossy:
    I wish I could go back in time and slap him for those 40-minute games Amar’e was playing in the fall of 2010.

    Damn. I remembered this, too, but I just went back to see how bad it really was. These are his minutes totals from Nov 28, 2010 – Dec 28, 2010:

    54 (double OT)
    41
    41
    38
    39
    43
    42
    40
    42
    38
    41
    37
    37
    43

    That’s 576 out of 682 possible minutes over 14 games in 30 days. Forget going back in time. We should fly to LA to smack him outside the head right now.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/stoudam01/gamelog/2011/

  16. flossy

    Hubert: Damn.I remembered this, too, but I just went back to see how bad it really was.These are his minutes totals from Nov 28, 2010 – Dec 28, 2010:

    54 (double OT)
    41
    41
    38
    39
    43
    42
    40
    42
    38
    41
    37
    37
    43

    That’s 576 out of 682 possible minutes over 14 games in 30 days.Forget going back in time.We should fly to LA to smack him outside the head right now.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/stoudam01/gamelog/2011/

    Right? It’s kind of shocking. The 54 minute game that kicked off that stretch was the 2nd game of a back-to-back, too, and he’d played 38 minutes the night before.

    I think it was Bill Simmons who pointed it out, but that right there is the mark of someone who was coaching for his next job. I just can’t believe nobody on the Knicks training staff was like “Uhhh…. no. You can’t do that.”

  17. d-mar

    I guess the big question is whether there were other teams out there that would have grabbed Amare if we had refused to go 5 years. Things happened so quickly after we whiffed on LeBron, and I don’t remember what the scuttlebutt was at that time. If we were truly bidding against ourselves, then yes, it was a very bad business decision.

    But as Hubert said in @19, Amare’s first year was as thrilling and magical as anything we’ve seen at MSG in years. I remember just being absolutely shocked at his mid-range game, which made him almost unguardable. And that game he outdueled Blake Griffin provided enough highlights for 3 ESPN specials.

  18. KnickfaninNJ

    On a different topic, I read the news story about Nate Robinson signing with Denver, But I couldn’t tell if the roughly $4M they quoted was the per year salary or the total of the two years salary. Does anyone know?

  19. DRed

    The first year we had Amare contained everything that’s wrong with the Knicks organization in a nutshell. First, we never should have given a guy with his injury history a 5 year max deal. D’Antoni never should have played a guy with his injury history that many minutes, especially when he was signed for the next 4 years. Finally, ownership should have made it clear to coach pringles that he didn’t have to play Amare so much-but it’s been clear for a long, long time that there’s never a long term plan at the Garden.

  20. johnno

    Hubert: When we smoked Derrick Rose’s Bulls on Christmas a month later, I told my girlfriend my first born male is going to be named Amar’e and if she isn’t cool with that she should leave me now.

    Obvious question that you didn’t answer — did she leave you or was she ok with having a son named Amare?

  21. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    I don’t think there’s much incentive on D’antoni’s part to play conservatively.

    If, during or after that stretch of insane MP logs, Amar’e gets injured, can the blame be firmly placed on D’antoni’s shoulders? Given how much nit-picking at simple box score stats we see on this site, the answer is clearly no.

    If he chooses to play his (arguably) best player less often because of fear of injury, he runs a risk of winning fewer games, and the simple W-L record is almost always placed on the shoulders of the coach, even though that seems hopelessly simplistic. There is no certainty (or even evidence beyond the anecdotal, as far as I know) that high MP numbers lead to injuries, especially catastrophic ones.

    As a fan, you wish to see your resources conserved, even at the risk of lower output. Coaches face different constraints. Think of Mike Shanahan. If he rides Griffin into the ground and his team makes it to the NFC Championship game, he probably earns himself a contract extension. If he loses, regardless of who’s on the field, he might, like other coaches before him, find himself axed. He has more incentive to act in the short-term payout than he does in the long-term.

  22. flossy

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    I don’t think there’s much incentive on D’antoni’s part to play conservatively.

    If, during or after that stretch of insane MP logs, Amar’e gets injured, can the blame be firmly placed on D’antoni’s shoulders? Given how much nit-picking at simple box score stats we see on this site, the answer is clearly no.

    If he chooses to play his (arguably) best player less often because of fear of injury, he runs a risk of winning fewer games, and the simple W-L record is almost always placed on the shoulders of the coach, even though that seems hopelessly simplistic. There is no certainty (or even evidence beyond the anecdotal, as far as I know) that high MP numbers lead to injuries, especially catastrophic ones.

    As a fan, you wish to see your resources conserved, even at the risk of lower output. Coaches face different constraints. Think of Mike Shanahan. If he rides Griffin into the ground and his team makes it to the NFC Championship game, he probably earns himself a contract extension. If he loses, regardless of who’s on the field, he might, like other coaches before him, find himself axed. He has more incentive to act in the short-term payout than he does in the long-term.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the incentives were there for Mike D’Antoni to ride Amar’e until the wheels fell off. The question is why nobody else in the Knicks organization intervened to protect the future value of STAT as long term asset. It’s not like the problem wasn’t obvious even back then–nobody thought that a high 30s/low 40s minutes load was appropriate for Amar’e, and yet here we are now.

  23. Brian Cronin

    On a different topic, I read the news story about Nate Robinson signing with Denver, But I couldn’t tell if the roughly $4M they quoted was the per year salary or the total of the two years salary. Does anyone know?

    Two year salary. It was their bi-annual $2 million exception.

  24. johnno

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: As a fan, you wish to see your resources conserved, even at the risk of lower output. Coaches face different constraints. Think of Mike Shanahan. If he rides Griffin into the ground and his team makes it to the NFC Championship game, he probably earns himself a contract extension. If he loses, regardless of who’s on the field, he might, like other coaches before him, find himself axed. He has more incentive to act in the short-term payout than he does in the long-term.

    Which is precisely why it is going to be interesting to see how Jason Kidd handles KG and Pierce’s minutes. There is going to be a lot of pressure on him to win early and often. If they are, say, 14-14 (sound familiar?), is he going to have the same willingness as Doc Rivers to limit their minutes at the risk of losing games? Or is he, as a rookie coach with an owner who wants to win now, going to give in to the temptation to play them 35 minutes a game?

  25. Frank

    Mike Kurylo: It just kinda blew my mind that there’s a surgery out there which, to the best of my understanding, the evidence at hand may indicate that it’s no better than placebo. And that million dollar athletes are getting this surgery. Yes debridement is an umbrella term which means lots of things could happen, but not knowing which ones work and which ones don’t is problematic. In other words it’s possible that some types of these surgeries work, for some people, but we don’t know which type Amar’e got and if his case is one of those it would work on.

    Your last sentence is the most important one — we don’t know does not equal nobody knows. It’s entirely possible that whoever did the surgery has an amazing record on these procedures, or that something specific about what he saw made him think Amare’s knee would respond well. Or maybe they just did it blindly. Who knows? But just because we, the uninformed public, didn’t know doesn’t mean it was a bad idea.

    Without getting into too long a discussion, I would assert that what you’re saying is one of the main solutions and problems with modern medicine. Too many doctors have literally zero idea what works and what doesn’t work, and so clinical trials are useful in that context. BUT– too many doctors and patients don’t know why something works or doesn’t work, and for whom and in what situation something is likely to work or not work. And so that’s what these studies don’t tell you — how will a 30 year old physical specimen respond to surgery by one of the top 0.1% of all orthopedic surgeons when he is 150% dedicated to rehab, icing, heat, training, etc. with the very best equipment. No data on that surgery. But that doesn’t mean that the surgery isn’t the right answer.

  26. Hubert

    johnno: Obvious question that you didn’t answer — did she leave you or was she ok with having a son named Amare?

    She smartly adopted a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” stance. There is no bun in the oven but if there were chances are I might push for Eli at this point.

  27. Hubert

    d-mar:
    I guess the big question is whether there were other teams out there that would have grabbed Amare if we had refused to go 5 years. Things happened so quickly after we whiffed on LeBron, and I don’t remember what the scuttlebutt was at that time. If we were truly bidding against ourselves, then yes, it was a very bad business decision.

    Hard to say.

    5 years was pretty much the going rate at the time. Bosh got 5. Boozer got 5, Lee got 6.

    I think Amar’e was always going to end up getting 5, you just knew you’d regret giving it to him.

  28. Unreason

    Hubert: She smartly adopted a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” stance.There is no bun in the oven but if there were chances are I might push for Eli at this point.

    That’s a dangerous game. If a superstar named Flaccido Butkus emerges at the wrong time, you’re in trouble.

  29. KnickfaninNJ

    Brian Cronin: Two year salary. It was their bi-annual $2 million exception.

    Many thanks. Honestly, that seems like a good deal for Denver to me. If Nate can get regular minutes off the bench and do even half what he did and sixth men who can score can make a lot more than that.

  30. Robert Silverman

    danvt:
    sic transit gloria mundi

    Sources say Max Fischer was hired by the Knicks to run their advanced analytics program. When asked about the fact that Fischer flunked Geometry, the Knicks FO stated, “We are confident in Max’s abilities.”

  31. thenamestsam

    KnickfaninNJ: Many thanks.Honestly, that seems like a good deal for Denver to me.If Nate can get regular minutes off the bench and do even half what he did and sixth men who can score can make a lot more than that.

    It seems a bit odd to me just because they already have Lawson and Miller there. Presumably either they’re planning on dealing Miller or they’re planning on playing 2 PGs close to full-time given what I’d expect the minutes on those 3 to look like.

  32. Hubert

    Unreason: That’s a dangerous game. If a superstar named Flaccido Butkus emerges at the wrong time, you’re in trouble.

    If he wins a title for the Knicks, there will be generations of Flaccido Butkus’s in my family.

  33. JK47

    thenamestsam: It seems a bit odd to me just because they already have Lawson and Miller there. Presumably either they’re planning on dealing Miller or they’re planning on playing 2 PGs close to full-time given what I’d expect the minutes on those 3 to look like.

    I want to see the 5’11” Lawson and 5’9″ Robinson backcourt try to defend anybody. That should be entertaining.

  34. ALLANROSE

    I’m a Physical Therapist as well as a 40 year Knick Fan…the key here is “uninsurable”. A number of Physicians representing Insurers all over the country, especially the High Premium Companies that deal with Athletes all agreed that Amare’s Knees were a ticking time bomb in 2010. He is probably the only player in the League without Insurance. No one Foreign or Domestic would even write a Policy because they were 100% certain STAT would never survive a 5 year Contract. This is why the Knicks were insane to give him a 5 year deal without a team option after Year 3 or 4. It was a public relations disaster losing LeBron 1n ’10 and Donnie Walsh, God Bless him had to come up with something for D’Antoni, who signed a ridiculous contract to Coach a Lottery team. It worked for 6 months, and has crippled the team since. Debridement is a Band-Aid for Arthritic Knees at this stage.

  35. SeeWhyDee77

    Hey..if the Knicks are seriously considering Bobby Brown..how about bringin in Ian Clark instead? Same type of player basically (‘cept better on defense by all accounts), but for half the price.

  36. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Frank: And so that’s what these studies don’t tell you — how will a 30 year old physical specimen respond to surgery by one of the top 0.1% of all orthopedic surgeons when he is 150% dedicated to rehab, icing, heat, training, etc. with the very best equipment. No data on that surgery. But that doesn’t mean that the surgery isn’t the right answer.

    There are a lot of assumptions here. First off the 30 year old isn’t your plays at the Y once a week and hits the gym one or two days a week. It’s a 30 year old that has spent the time we sit at our full time job putting a pounding on his body. It’s a 30 year old that might play more basketball in a year (we talking about practice?)then we probably do in a decade. It’s a 30 year old that is so unbelievable physically muscular, that the cuts and running and jumping and pounding from other 7 foot tall players puts a greater toll on his joints than we can imagine.

    Second it’s a huge assumption that these doctors are the best in their business. Just like teams make shitty and jaw dropping decisions regarding personnel for millions of dollars in a billion dollar industry, it’s equally likely they do the same with doctors. If James Dolan can’t figure out that Isiah Thomas isn’t the best person to have around his basketball organization, how the heck can we assume that he’s getting the best doctor?

    For all we know the doctors used by athletes got their job by who they know and where the could afford to have their office (Park Avenue!) rather than how good they actually are.

    Let’s think about this for a second. There are no studies that show if this surgery works, so how would we know if a surgeon is doing the right job. And if teams ignore proper stats to evaluate players, they probably aren’t doing the same with the doctors that operate on their players.

  37. Hubert

    ALLANROSE:
    I’m a Physical Therapist as well as a 40 year Knick Fan…the key here is “uninsurable”. A number of Physicians representing Insurers all over the country, especially the High Premium Companies that deal with Athletes all agreed that Amare’s Knees were a ticking time bomb in 2010. He is probably the only player in the League without Insurance. No one Foreign or Domestic would even write a Policy because they were 100% certain STAT would never survive a 5 year Contract. This is why the Knicks were insane to give him a 5 year deal without a team option after Year 3 or 4. It was a public relations disaster losing LeBron 1n ’10 and Donnie Walsh, God Bless him had to come up with something for D’Antoni, who signed a ridiculous contract to Coach a Lottery team. It worked for 6 months, and has crippled the team since. Debridement is a Band-Aid for Arthritic Knees at this stage.

    You are wrong seven ways from Sunday and should take your misinformation elsewhere.

    First of all, it’s uninsured, not uninsurable.

    Second, NBA contracts are handled under one insurance company, and every year that company gets to select 14 contracts that they do not want to insure. The caveat being that if a contract is insured at any point, it can never be excluded.

    So it makes perfect sense that in 2010, they chose to exclude Amar’e’s contract. It also makes perfect sense that either this year or next year it may go under the insurance umbrella as it will cease to be one of the 14 riskiest contracts in the league.

    Luol Deng’s contract isn’t insured. Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, and Blake Griffin are all likely uninsured. Jeff Green, Eric Gordon, and Emeka Okafor have all been uninsured at some point. And I bet you $5 Dwight Howard’s new contract isn’t insured.

  38. johnno

    Mike Kurylo: It’s a 30 year old that is so unbelievable physically muscular, that the cuts and running and jumping and pounding from other 7 foot tall players puts a greater toll on his joints than we can imagine.

    That’s one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is that his is a 30 year old body that is so incredibly superior to any of our bodies or, for that matter, to any of the bodies of anyone we know, that it is impossible for us to have any idea how his body reacts to pounding or to surgery.

  39. Frank

    Mike Kurylo: For all we know the doctors used by athletes got their job by who they know and where the could afford to have their office (Park Avenue!) rather than how good they actually are.

    Well, I can’t speak for other teams, but the Knicks’ team orthopedic surgeons are from Hospital for Special Surgery, which is basically considered the best orthopedic hospital in the world. Don’t need stats to tell me that.

    Mike Kurylo: Let’s think about this for a second. There are no studies that show if this surgery works, so how would we know if a surgeon is doing the right job.

    OK, so let’s design a study about whether this knee debridement works in NBA players. Here’s how the conversation would go:

    “Kobe, I know your knee is killing you, and we can see on the MRI that you’ve got sewage particles floating in your knee. There’s no double-blinded randomized trial proving that taking that stuff out is useful, so we’d like to do one. I can’t tell you for sure you’ll be in the real surgery group or in the fake surgery group, but you’ll totally wake up with a scar on your leg from either the real or sham surgery. In fact, even I won’t know whether you got the real surgery or not until we unblind the study 12 months from now. Oh, and you’ll be disqualified from analysis if your knee still hurts and you go for another therapy before the study protocol says so. Oh– and 12 months from now means the whole season plus into the next? Well, all in the name of science!! So… how do you feel about signing an informed consent for this knowing that your career is on the line and that your knee is killing you?”

  40. Frank

    Point being, of course, that at Knickerblogger, we think of stats as us sitting in our easy chair and looking at Basketball-Reference, hoopdata.com, stats.nba.com, maybe even Synergy. Playing with some excel spreadsheets, and voila! you’ve got a statistically flawed relevant analysis!

    In healthcare, you’ve got people’s lives and livelihoods on the line. A real study like this will never happen mostly because most people don’t go to surgery unless they’ve already failed rest/rehab, and no player will ever sign up for the placebo arm, because they’ve already failed the placebo. And so you’ll have to use your brain and trust someone.

    Mike Kurylo: And if teams ignore proper stats to evaluate players, they probably aren’t doing the same with the doctors that operate on their players.

    this is an unbelievably cynical thing to say. it’s one thing to say that Isiah shouldn’t have traded for Eddy Curry. It’s a very different thing to say that teams are not doing their best to care for their players.

  41. Robtachi

    Hubert: You are wrong seven ways from Sunday and should take your misinformation elsewhere.

    First of all, it’s uninsured, not uninsurable.

    Second, NBA contracts are handled under one insurance company, and every year that company gets to select 14 contracts that they do not want to insure.The caveat being that if a contract is insured at any point, it can never be excluded.

    So it makes perfect sense that in 2010, they chose to exclude Amar’e’s contract.It also makes perfect sense that either this year or next year it may go under the insurance umbrella as it will cease to be one of the 14 riskiest contracts in the league.

    Luol Deng’s contract isn’t insured. Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, and Blake Griffin are all likely uninsured. Jeff Green, Eric Gordon, and Emeka Okafor have all been uninsured at some point. And I bet you $5 Dwight Howard’s new contract isn’t insured.

    Does that mean there’s a possibility of Amar`e’s contract becoming insured this season or the next, making him movable?

  42. GHenman

    d-mar: I guess the big question is whether there were other teams out there that would have grabbed Amare if we had refused to go 5 years. Things happened so quickly after we whiffed on LeBron, and I don’t remember what the scuttlebutt was at that time. If we were truly bidding against ourselves, then yes, it was a very bad business decision.But as Hubert said in @19, Amare’s first year was as thrilling and magical as anything we’ve seen at MSG in years. I remember just being absolutely shocked at his mid-range game, which made him almost unguardable. And that game he outdueled Blake Griffin provided enough highlights for 3 ESPN specials.

    FWIW, we signed Amare to try to entice Lebron, not in a panic after Lebron signed with Miami.

  43. Hubert

    It’s all guesswork.

    I would imagine the insurance companies choose their 14 contracts based on a combination of the likelihood they will need to pay and the total exposure of a contract.

    In his final year, the total exposure of his contract will be only $25 million. The likelihood that they will have to pay it could be very high, though.

    But at some point in the next two years he is going to be movable, if he isn’t movable already.

  44. Z

    Hubert: Damn.I remembered this, too, but I just went back to see how bad it really was.These are his minutes totals from Nov 28, 2010 – Dec 28, 2010:

    54 (double OT)
    41
    41
    38
    39
    43
    42
    40
    42
    38
    41
    37
    37
    43

    That’s 576 out of 682 possible minutes over 14 games in 30 days.Forget going back in time.We should fly to LA to smack him outside the head right now.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/s/stoudam01/gamelog/2011/

    Yeah, but half those minutes he stood off to the side and watched the other four Knicks play defense.

  45. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Frank: Well, I can’t speak for other teams, but the Knicks’ team orthopedic surgeons are from Hospital for Special Surgery, which is basically considered the best orthopedic hospital in the world. Don’t need stats to tell me that.

    I’d actually be shocked if this were true. There are very few fields in which the people selected are exactly the best & brightest to do their jobs. There’s always nepotism, favoritism, poor judgement, wealth, good looks, etc. in any organization. These are human traits and are seemingly universal.

    We can go round and round on this issue all day. NBA teams do a lot of really dumb things. All of a sudden their choice of doctors is beyond reproach?

    Do you not think that the possibility exists that one (or more) of the surgeons that do operations on athletes aren’t among the best of their field?

  46. Unreason

    Mike Kurylo: There are no studies that show if this surgery works, so how would we know if a surgeon is doing the right job.

    I like your piece a lot. I don’t agree with your conclusion though, re the importance of the uncertainty about the surgery’s effectiveness.

    I think you’re right that there is significant uncertainty. There’s this conclusion from of a 2012 meta-analysis: Arthroscopic joint debridement is a potential and sufficient treatment for knee osteoarthritis in a middle-term time interval. This procedure results in an excellent or good outcome in approximately 60 % of patients in approximately 5 years. Evidence Level: III
    Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2013 Jul;21(7):1553-61

    This evidence review is the only one I could find and doesn’t seem methodologically rigorous. There is also a large survey of European surgeons suggesting what factors might impact prognosis and a weak attempt to define evidence-based guidelines in Scotland. None of it inspires confidence one way or the other re what to expect with Amare.

    That said, the absence of good evidence re the benefit of medical procedures is absolutely typical: even with respect to the most common treatments in the most typical patient populations. Surgical treatments are even less well studied than than others (e.g. drugs). Beyond that, as you wrote, both the bodies and the stresses of professional athletes make them highly atypical patients. So even if there were a lot of solid evidence re effectiveness in normal humans, that evidence might be misleading.

    Again, I think you’re right that there’s lots of uncertainty. I just think the amount of uncertainty is so typical that it’s unremarkable and not any more a cause for second guessing than most other courses of action.

  47. johnno

    Mike Kurylo: Frank: Well, I can’t speak for other teams, but the Knicks’ team orthopedic surgeons are from Hospital for Special Surgery, which is basically considered the best orthopedic hospital in the world. Don’t need stats to tell me that.
    I’d actually be shocked if this were true.

    You’d be shocked that the Hospital is considered the best orthopedic hospital in the world?? Your cynicism is based on what?? Why would that be “shocking?” Would you acknowledge that it is at least an “excellent” orthopedic hospital? Or do you accept as absolute certainty that, if the Knicks trust them, they must suck because the Knicks front office is incompetent?

  48. Frank

    Mike Kurylo: Do you not think that the possibility exists that one (or more) of the surgeons that do operations on athletes aren’t among the best of their field?

    Definitely might be true, but I have a really difficult time believing that a team would put their most important assets (their players’ bodies) on the line without significant vetting of candidates. And again, I have no idea what other medical staffs are like, but I do have a fair amount of experience and contact with HSS and I feel pretty comfortable saying that the Knicks’ surgeon (maybe not the one who did Amare’s surgery btw – -didn’t the Phoenix guy do that?) Answorth Allen is pretty much universally respected as a good guy and a great surgeon.

    btw this whole conversation is mildly humorous because it feels like just last week we had a whole thread on WHY IN THE WORLD HASN’T CARMELO HAD SURGERY ON HIS SHOULDER ALREADY!!!!

  49. TDM

    The Spurs reportedly have withdrawn their QO on Gary Neal. Any thoughts on whether the Knicks could sign him for the MMLE, or that he would take less to play in NY? I know the Bucks were interested in him earlier in the offseason so they may still make a play, but unless the money was drastically more, can’t see Neal choosing the Bucks.

    https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/statuses/359756564942430209

  50. Unreason

    Frank: Without getting into too long a discussion, I would assert that what you’re saying is one of the main solutions and problems with modern medicine. Too many doctors have literally zero idea what works and what doesn’t work, and so clinical trials are useful in that context. BUT– too many doctors and patients don’t know why something works or doesn’t work, and for whom and in what situation something is likely to work or not work. And so that’s what these studies don’t tell you — how will a 30 year old physical specimen respond to surgery by one of the top 0.1% of all orthopedic surgeons when he is 150% dedicated to rehab, icing, heat, training, etc. with the very best equipment. No data on that surgery. But that doesn’t mean that the surgery isn’t the right answer.

    Sorry, I guess my post was pretty redundant after yours.

  51. Mike Kurylo Post author

    johnno: You’d be shocked that the Hospital is considered the best orthopedic hospital in the world?? Your cynicism is based on what?? Why would that be “shocking?” Would you acknowledge that it is at least an “excellent” orthopedic hospital? Or do you accept as absolute certainty that, if the Knicks trust them, they must suck because the Knicks front office is incompetent?

    1. Not considered. Actually is. Perception <> Reality.
    2. I think I laid out my reasons clearly enough.
    3. Again #2
    4. I have no idea. It’s possible. It’s possible not. I don’t have much evidence to go on.
    5. You’re putting words in my mouth. Although come to think of it, that’s a pretty good argument.

  52. KnickfaninNJ

    thenamestsam: It seems a bit odd to me just because they already have Lawson and Miller there. Presumably either they’re planning on dealing Miller or they’re planning on playing 2 PGs close to full-time given what I’d expect the minutes on those 3 to look like.

    JK47: I want to see the 5’11? Lawson and 5’9? Robinson backcourt try to defend anybody.That should be entertaining.

    You both make good points. I don’t know why the Nuggets hired Nate, but I am happy for Nate. Miller’s not that much bigger than Lawson at 6′ 2″, so they don’t really have any big point guard and it’s hard to have a rotation of the three of them at point guard.

  53. DRed

    In my totally uneducated opinion, the problem lies not with the surgeons, but with the Knicks medical staff. Or, if you’d prefer, with guitar jimmy, who is most certainly stupid enough to hire and keep incompetents.

  54. d-mar

    GHenman: FWIW, we signed Amare to try to entice Lebron, not in a panic after Lebron signed with Miami.

    Yeah, you’re right, I forgot that’s how it went down. But at that point we still needed to sign a big name in case we didn’t get LeBron, so still a lot of pressure to make a deal.

  55. thenamestsam

    KnickfaninNJ:
    You both make good points.I don’t know why the Nuggets hired Nate, but I am happy for Nate.Miller’s not that much bigger than Lawson at 6? 2?, so they don’t really have any big point guard and it’s hard to have a rotation of the three of them at point guard.

    Definitely a little awkward. They played Miller and Lawson together a decent amount last year in the games I watched so they clearly weren’t averse to those small lineups, but then they also had Karl who loved the small lineups and wasn’t averse to some painful looking defensive matchup. I think it’s still a pretty open question what type of coach Shaw is going to be, but if he’s more of a defensive minded guy (and I’ve heard some people give him a lot of the credit for Indy’s D the last few years) I can’t imagine he’d like that much.

    If I had to wager I’d bet they’re looking to move Miller and make Nate the full-time backup point. For that I think he makes some sense as he’s fairly similar stylistically to Lawson, so he should fit readily into whatever sort of system they end up having. I wonder what they can get for Miller.

  56. nicos

    Obviously the surgery had SOME effect- it alleviated enough of the pain and swelling to allow him to play (and pretty effectively too) until his other knee gave out. I don’t think anyone looks at it as a cure, just a palliative measure that will allow him to play. If he needs this every three months then his career is pretty much over but as he’s just each knee done once what- five years out from the original micro fracture surgery? It’s probably too soon to say definitively. Certainly the 20 minute limit the Knicks have him on doesn’t bode well but didn’t Ewing have his knees cleaned out every couple of years for his entire career? I certainly don’t think you can count on Amar’e getting through the season intact but I don’t think you can definitively write him off either.

  57. KnickFanInCelticLand

    Frank,

    Actually Mike is spot on about the world of sports medicine. I have done a lot of sports medicine work on weekend warriors up to profesional athletes including world record holders and Olympic champions. From my 34 years of experience in the business, I can tell you that level of quality of care is quite random even at the high “rep” hospitals. The old adage that is is not what you know but who you know is alive and well in the physician world.

  58. ephus

    On Amar’e and insurance, the comments above are correct. The insurance company gets to pick up to 14 contracts each year not to insure. Thus far, Amar’e’s contract has not been insured. Insurance is a one-way rachet: once a contract is insured, the insurance cannot be discontinued.

    With only about $46 million left on this contract, I would be surprised STAT was again excluded from the insurance policy. Certainly, STAT’s contract will not be one of the 14 biggest risks next year. So, he will eventually become tradable.

    But, I still hope that Amar’e makes enough of a recovery to contribute over the next two years. He is going to get free weak-side elbow jumpers all the time. He once was deadly on that shot. Even if only that shot comes back into his arsenal, he is a major offensive weapon.

    I am hoping that next season will be a good time to be a Knick fan.

  59. SeeWhyDee77

    TDM:
    The Spurs reportedly have withdrawn their QO on Gary Neal.Any thoughts on whether the Knicks could sign him for the MMLE, or that he would take less to play in NY?I know the Bucks were interested in him earlier in the offseason so they may still make a play, but unless the money was drastically more, can’t see Neal choosing the Bucks.

    https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/statuses/359756564942430209

    It would be great if he would accept less to be a Knick. Maybe he would because he comes from a culture of winning and teams with cap room left aren’t sure fire playoff teams and that might be enough to make him decide to play for a team like the Knicks. Gary Neal is 6’4″ rite? We could effectively do a 2 PG lineup with him. If only JR had trade value at this point..

  60. Z

    Frank: …this whole conversation is mildly humorous because it feels like just last week we had a whole thread on WHY IN THE WORLD HASN’T CARMELO HAD SURGERY ON HIS SHOULDER ALREADY!!!!

    Great point. Surgery should be used as a last resort, even in professionals, because so much can go wrong, and there is a cost to going under the knife that can outweigh potential benefits. There is a lot of conventional wisdom out there regarding sports medicine, but most of it seems baseless and lacking in empirical support. For example, the above mentioned minutes logged by Amar’e Stoudemire: is there any true reason to believe that playing an extra few minutes of basketball every couple of days shortens one’s career? In this age high-priced players and the subsequent paranoia of minute-counts, pitch counts, game-counts, etc, it seems the one thing that that has changed is that athletes get MORE injured. I get that for baseball pitchers the types of pitches needed to get major-league hitters out puts more strain on arms, so it’s not a surprise that pretty much every pitcher breaks down during the course of an 162 game season, but basketball hasn’t evolved much. The players are still big, and they still have to run up and down a 96 foot court. It just seems the more that western medicine advances, the more that western athletes need it, which doesn’t pass the smell test.

  61. Z

    ephus:
    On Amar’e and insurance, the comments above are correct.The insurance company gets to pick up to 14 contracts each year not to insure.Thus far, Amar’e’s contract has not been insured.Insurance is a one-way rachet: once a contract is insured, the insurance cannot be discontinued.

    With only about $46 million left on this contract, I would be surprised STAT was again excluded from the insurance policy.Certainly, STAT’s contract will not be one of the 14 biggest risks next year.So, he will eventually become tradable.

    And there was this, written a few months ago:

    “despite a widespread belief that Stoudemire’s troublesome knees and eyes aren’t insured, an insurance industry source confirmed the Knicks were able to find supplemental insurance for those body parts. He would have to miss 41 consecutive games for the Knicks to recoup any salary.”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/13432/insurance-helps-bulls-foot-roses-bill

  62. Unreason

    Z: is there any true reason to believe that playing an extra few minutes of basketball every couple of days shortens one’s career?

    I like this question. It seems tractable enough. Do you know of anyone whose looked at it? I admit to being guilty of making this common sense assumption, but I agree, it could be off.

    Z: In this age high-priced players and the subsequent paranoia of minute-counts, pitch counts, game-counts, etc, it seems the one thing that that has changed is that athletes get MORE injured.

    This conjecture also seems amenable to investigation. I wouldn’t guess that athletes are injured more often, but maybe they are.

    Z: It just seems the more that western medicine advances, the more that western athletes need it, which doesn’t pass the smell test.

    To the extent that athletes are undergoing more treatment, that trend is in keeping with broad trends toward overtreatment in US medical practice generally. So sports medicine might not be exceptional in that way.

  63. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Why do athletes get injured more often? Jumping higher, throwing harder, pushing the limits of physicality.

    That’s pretty simple. You think anyone in the 1970s could jump the way Blake Griffin can? He’s as much a product of exercise science as he is genetics.

  64. Unreason

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Why do athletes get injured more often? Jumping higher, throwing harder, pushing the limits of physicality.

    That’s pretty simple. You think anyone in the 1970s could jump the way Blake Griffin can? He’s as much a product of exercise science as he is genetics.

    Sounds plausible, but do we know that they are getting injured more often to begin with?

  65. JK47

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Why do athletes get injured more often? Jumping higher, throwing harder, pushing the limits of physicality.

    That’s pretty simple. You think anyone in the 1970s could jump the way Blake Griffin can? He’s as much a product of exercise science as he is genetics.

    This is exactly right. Watch a basketball game from the 70’s sometime, it’s remarkable how under-the-rim it all is.

    Same thing in the NFL– linemen were about 255 pounds in the 70’s and a lot of them were slower than the 300 pound lineman of today. The athletes in the NFL are getting so good that the future of the sport is seriously in question.

  66. Z-man

    A couple of guys named Chamberlain and Russell could jump pretty high. So could Johnny green and darrell Griffith and David Thompson and Julius Erving.

    <blockquote cite="comment-443952"

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Why do athletes get injured more often? Jumping higher, throwing harder, pushing the limits of physicality.

    That’s pretty simple. You think anyone in the 1970s could jump the way Blake Griffin can? He’s as much a product of exercise science as he is genetics.

  67. Z

    Z-man:
    A couple of guys named Chamberlain and Russell could jump pretty high. So could Johnny green and darrell Griffith and David Thompson and Julius Erving.

    Yup. And other than one season for Wilt, those guys were never injured. Ever. (At least not enough to actually miss more than a handful of games their entire careers). If microfracture surgery was available to them, or “debridement” surgery, they probably would have been given it, and maybe their careers would have been negatively effected because of it.

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Why do athletes get injured more often? Jumping higher, throwing harder, pushing the limits of physicality.

    If you are saying that PEDs are pushing ability past the limits of physicality, I can’t argue it. But if you are saying that today’s athletes are getting hurt more because they are more naturally athletic, I think that conveniently ignores a whole history of evolutionary science.

  68. Z-man

    I will concede that the way the sports are played has become more demanding, and that the athletes are bigger, stronger, faster ON AVERAGE than in the past. For example, I went to a hockey game recently at MSG after not seeing a game live since the 1970’s and was blown away by sheer speed of the game. Watching a vintage NBA game from the 1970’s gives the same feeling…seems primitive in some regards.

    In some ways, however, NBA basketball is less demanding now than it was in the 1970’s. Players are pampered (often from the time they were little kids), comparatively rich, and have year-round access to the best facilities, trainers, nutritionists, medical staffs, therapists, etc. They travel by charter jet and stay in posh hotels. They don’t have to deal with bare-bones locker rooms or pre-civil rights crowds, especially in southern cities. They had very little union protection against exploitative coaches and management. And even the best doctors were using techniques, meds and surgeries that would be considered primitive by today’s standards.

    Another important consideration is the quality of the FOOTWEAR! I would invite anyone to put on a pair of Chuck Taylors and run a few full-courts, and imagine that being pretty much the state-of-the-art in the 60’s and ’70s. Well, there were Puma Clydes!

    Getting back to Wilt, averaging a 50 and 27 while playing an average of 48.5 mpg is arguably the most phenomenal single season ever put forth by an athlete in any sport. For his entire career, Wilt never averaged less than 42 MPG, and was over 45 mpg for his career. And the game involved many more trips up and down the court in those days, with scores in the 120’s pretty common. Not to mention his after-hours demands. You would think that opposing coaches must have tried to tire him out upping the pace, obviously that didn’t work out too well.

  69. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Z: Yup. And other than one season for Wilt, those guys were never injured. Ever. (At least not enough to actually miss more than a handful of games their entire careers). If microfracture surgery was available to them, or “debridement” surgery, they probably would have been given it, and maybe their careers would have been negatively effected because of it.

    If you are saying that PEDs are pushing ability past the limits of physicality, I can’t argue it. But if you are saying that today’s athletes are getting hurt more because they are more naturally athletic, I think that conveniently ignores a whole history of evolutionary science.

    No, no. The athletes who play today are:

    1) more likely to be athletically superior (much larger pool of potential players on all levels of play)

    2) developing “skills” and “athletic ability” from an earlier age

  70. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Z-man: A couple of guys named Chamberlain and Russell could jump pretty high. So could Johnny green and darrell Griffith and David Thompson and Julius Erving.

    A couple of guys. Yes. On the whole, it’s pretty much undeniable that the field has gotten more athletic.

    I mean, look at the Olympics. Records are still being broken. Is it because of superior athletes? Yes. Is it a product of nature or nurture? I’d guess the latter, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is that the field of competition is much deeper than it was in the past.

    I mean, Shannon Brown and Joe Alexander are known for being physical freaks, but neither of them have made much of a career.

  71. Z-man

    Just being an athletic freak did not guarantee you stardom then either. Johnny Green was hardly a star. There were only 12 teams back then and hardly other professional options of note, so only the very best made it. By the late 60’s, NBA basketball was popular and inclusive enough to be largely played by world-class athletes. Most players played 4 years of regimented college ball, which may have weeded out more injury prone players. On the other hand, there were probably many more great players who never got out of their local schoolyards (or Rucker league) due to lack of opportunity.

    I agree that it is probably more nurture than nature as well. I don’t agree that this makes the current player more susceptible to injury. As far as injury and recovery goes, I think that today’s players are tremendously advantaged. Better training, preparation, stretching, equipment, footwear, facilities, nutrition, etc. make for longer potential careers. Look at Kurt Thomas, he was never particularly athletic and had a number of serious injury issues early in his career, but was still a serviceable player at age 40. It seems that there are more guys in the league over age 35 than ever. Or maybe that’s just how it feels after watching last year’s Knicks!

  72. Z-man

    Coming full circle, a player like Amare may have washed out of the league at age 26 because there was no such thing as microfracture surgery, or maybe his retina problem ends his career. Or maybe his career gets derailed by drugs (David Thompson) or a fight (Rudy T) or a scandal (Connie Hawkins.)

  73. Mike Kurylo Post author

    The Honorable Cock Jowles:

    2) developing “skills” and “athletic ability” from an earlier age

    Are you kidding me? Players from the old days were much more skilled. They were such good shooters, they didn’t even have to jump to make a shot. There was no three point line, because it would have been a huge disadvantage. Heck Bob Cousy was so good he never had to use his left hand to dribble and was so proficient at layups he didn’t have to dunk the ball. Kids today are the ones with no basketball skills.

    #oldmansarcasm

  74. Z

    Mike Kurylo:
    #oldmansarcasm

    Yes, it’s true, today’s players are more athletic. But does it really make sense that more athletic people get more injured? It seems like they aren’t really more athletic, if that is the case.

  75. Z

    The Honorable Cock Jowles: The point is that the field of competition is much deeper than it was in the past.

    But this is always the case. You could have said the exact same thing in the 90s, and in the 80s, and in the 70s, and in the 60s… How is this generation different? What has changed, other than MORE available science?

  76. Z-man

    Mike Kurylo: Are you kidding me? Players from the old days were much more skilled. They were such good shooters, they didn’t even have to jump to make a shot. There was no three point line, because it would have been a huge disadvantage. Heck Bob Cousy was so good he never had to use his left hand to dribble and was so proficient at layups he didn’t have to dunk the ball. Kids today are the ones with no basketball skills.

    #oldmansarcasm

    Well, back then you wouldn’t have had to look as hard for a right-hand dominant scrub to write a best-seller about.

  77. DRed

    Z: But this is always the case. You could have said the exact same thing in the 90s, and in the 80s, and in the 70s, and in the 60s… How is this generation different? What has changed, other than MORE available science?

    More available drugs.

  78. max fisher-cohen

    Robert Silverman: Sources say Max Fischer was hired by the Knicks to run their advanced analytics program. When asked about the fact that Fischer flunked Geometry, the Knicks FO stated, “We are confident in Max’s abilities.”

    This better be a rushmore reference…

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