"It was a crazy year, man," Amare Stoudemire said after a Knicks practice before the team faced the Heat. "This year, it's going to go down with an asterisk mark because it was a roller-coaster year with the lockout. A lot of injuries across the NBA, so many games."
That was a few days before NBA commissioner David Stern gave his annual pre-playoff conference call, in which he said that significant injuries, such as ACL and Achilles tears, were not as prevalent during the season as in previous years. But then the postseason started, and Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Josh Smith and Baron Davis all went down (in that order) with long-term knee injuries.
While there's been a lot of recent attention paid to the post-lockout shortened schedule as a result of those aforementioned setbacks, and many more, Stoudemire added another root to the problem. He raised an interesting point last week in Miami that the pre-lockout period also hurt the players, because they weren't able to interact with their team's trainers.
"I mean, it's because of the lockout," he said. "We play so many games this year, so many intense games back-to-back-to-back without hardly any rest, a lot of traveling. We had no time to recover. On top of that, during the lockout, a lot of us didn't have a chance to get proper treatment.
"I figured as the NBA, you'll want guys to continue to train the proper way even during the lockout, because something was going to be resolved sooner or later. So why not allow the team trainers to still work with the athletes during the lockout? That's something that didn't happen, so as a result of it, the injuries are at an all-time high within a shorter season."
A veteran NBA trainer agreed with Stoudemire and said only a few players go out of their way to stay in the best shape.
"Physicians don't play a big role during guys' offseason conditioning, but the athletic trainers," he said. "And, yes, many players depend on their athletic trainers to guide them, which they should. Many won't go searching for top trainers because they don't really have to if the team is available. But the more driven ones do."
During the conference call, Stern addressed the number of injuries this season, and he said there actually wasn't an increase. However, DNP's were up because of the additional games during the week. STAT agreed.
"Very much so," he said. "So many games within a month. Guys played 15, 16 games in a month. The most you should play is 12, 14 games in a month, so when you have back-to-back-to-back games ... Players like ourselves, we're very explosive who play the game with so much energy and enthusiasm to where your body is just not built to handle that type of impact every single night."
After seeing Shumpert and Davis go down in Games 1 and 4, respectively, Stoudemire admitted at the time that they had an effect on him.
"You want to be careful. This is a year where a lot of guys are going down with re-injury," he said. "At this point, now you're in the playoffs, so everything's got to be put aside and you've just got to play all out. But hopefully after this season, guys can recover and get great rest this summer and come into next season feeling good about themselves."
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