A Reminder Of How Much Injuries Matter

Darius Soriano —  September 8, 2011

The other day I wrote about the quest for parity, using a comparison between franchise quarterbacks in the NFL and the super elite basketball players in the NBA. It’s a comparison that doesn’t come without caveats as the difference between the sports and roles players take on for their teams can sometimes be major. You’ll have to indulge me again as the NFL is on my mind again today (and not just because the season kicks off tonight).

I bring up the NFL today because another bit of news from the grid iron caught my eye as it was announced that perennial MVP candidate Peyton Manning underwent neck surgery and will miss at least 2-3 months with the potential to miss the entire season. As a football fan in general and a person that appreciates the best players in the game from any sport, this saddened me.

But it also got me thinking about injuries and how easily a team’s chances can be derailed by an unforeseen ailment. Manning is the engine that powers the Colts franchise and without him they’re likely sunk, competing for a top draft pick next April rather than a playoff berth this winter. Suddenly the Colts have gone from championship contender to also ran. Such is the reality of losing your best player.

This is especially pertinent to me because as a Laker fan I too worry about a closing championship window and how fragile that can be. This past spring the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs in large part because their top players didn’t perform up to standard, but when looking closer injuries surely played a role in their demise. Kobe nursed a knee injury early in the season, an ankle injury towards the end of the year, and sat out most practices to rest aging legs. Pau Gasol came out of the gates as strong as ever, announcing himself as an early season MVP candidate before wearing down physically and mentally after playing heavy minutes without another viable Center on the roster to curb his minutes in the pivot.

Moving into this next season Kobe’s gone to Germany for a knee procedure that he hopes will help him practice more while still having fresh legs during the season but that’s by no means a guarantee. Gasol’s looking to recharge and reestablish his place amongst the league’s best by wearing his national team’s colors this summer but that’s no guarantee against past seasons’ hamstring issues cropping up again. Meanwhile Andrew Bynum hasn’t played a full season in 4 years and as he takes on more responsibility with this team his value and importance to its success only goes up.

Sometimes it’s the things you can’t control that impact your season the most. A lesson that the Colts learned the hard way this morning. For a fan of the Lakers, this serves as a sobering reminder. Here’s hoping the Lakers have a bit more luck in this area next season.

           

Darius Soriano

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6 responses to A Reminder Of How Much Injuries Matter

  1. Nothing matters more than talent and health. The Lakers were pretty healthy in the playoffs. They just didn’t have the talent as Kobe declined yet again and Gasol just didn’t have the talent. I mean if this was baseball in the 20’s nobody would think Pau wasn’t paid off. I mean for a NBA player of his caliber to tank it that badly in the playoffs against weak defensive players… It just hasn’t happened before.

  2. any reports on how bynum’s doing? screwing around or working hard?

  3. The most troubling revelation from last season was that Kobe wasn’t practicing with the team. That has to change going forward. They will be implementing a new system (and hopefully some new players). He has to be on the floor with his team mates during practice. The fact his knee was so bad that he sat out many of the teams practices is actually quite alarming.

  4. @ #1- Pau Gasol played so badly last playoffs that he should’ve been telling people he WAS indeed paid off. That would’ve at least made sense when taking his production into account.

    Injuries in the NBA are much more season-derailing than any other sport. We should’ve been talking about a 4-peat last season…

  5. 2,
    My favorite Lakers player since Kobe and now including Kobe is rumored to be working hard on his body and conditioning. Or at least that’s what his PR people are wanting us to think as they leak “Bynum Taking up Boxing” headlines. If anyone attacks Bynum about anything I will blindly defend him.

    4,
    That’s actually a great question. Would you think more or less of Gasol if it was found he was paid off? That’s a question I would ask people I’m auditioning to be a new friend oF mine. I think we have something here.

    Aldo a great point on the Bynum and Arizaless 08 Finals loss. We of course had injuries go our way in both championships. So it goes both ways.