From Derrick Rose to Dwight Howard, Manu Ginobili and many more, this NBA season has proven lethal to the health of players. Many will ask, why have so many superstars suffered injuries? The answer is simply, wear and tear. The daily grind of the NBA is tough enough under the regular 82 game schedule. This season has proven too much for the players to handle, with 66 games compressed into a small window of time. Many teams adapted, resting superstars on the final night of 3 games in 3 days. Coach Poppovich of the Spurs was a prime example; resting Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker countless times as a precaution. However, other teams and players struggled with a multitude of injuries.
A fairly recent example of a devastating injury came in game 1 of the Bulls vs. 76ers playoff series. With a comfortable lead in the late 4th, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau elected for Derrick Rose to keep playing. The dubious result ended up with Rose writhing on the floor clutching his knee. The superstar point guard found out hours later that he had torn his ACL. The reigning MVP’s season was over before he could lead his team to their first title since Jordan. This all didn’t just suddenly happen either. Rose dealt with injury problems all season, missing 27 games due to various ailments. Unfortunately, this was a result of the lockout-shortened and compressed schedule.
As the Bulls move on as a franchise, Dwight Howard attempts to move on from his coach. In Orlando, Dwight Howard had season ending back surgery just before the playoffs. Many have speculated that the surgery was “unnecessary”. Others went on to say that Howard used his back as a ploy to avoid playing for Stan Van Gundy. The issue stemmed from a season long struggle between Dwight, the organization, and coach Van Gundy. It all began with Howard requesting a trade in the preseason, continued with his professed displeasure with Van Gundy, and came to an abrupt end with his surgery. The wear and tear of this shortened season was no doubt physically daunting, but was also mentally draining.
We do however see a glimmer of hope in the eyes of players. Jeremy Lin is eyeing a return from a torn meniscus for game 4 of the series vs. the Heat. The aging Spurs are feeling young, and are scoring the ball with a newfound fluidity. The same can be said for the Celtics. They are back playing the championship level basketball that we are used to, (minus the knucklehead suspensions of Rajon Rondo). It will be interesting to see how the playoffs shake out, as many superstars have been shaken, rattled, and stirred by this shortened NBA season.