Thursday, April 26, 2012
Stern: Shortened season had fewer injuries
By Jared Zwerling
After Knicks' shootaround Wednesday morning, ESPNNewYork.com asked Amare Stoudemire to reflect on the shortened season.
"It was a crazy year, man," STAT said. "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."
But as it turns out, not only were overall injuries down from the 2010-11 season, according to NBA commissioner David Stern, who addressed the topic during his annual pre-playoff conference call on Wednesday, but serious injuries, such as ACL and Achilles tears, were also not as prevalent. There was some belief that injuries were on the rise because of the compactness of the schedule.
"I would say that our injuries are slightly down compared to last season," he said, "although games missed are up because coaches are more cautious with returning their players to action. By playing two more games per team per month, we've managed to have a 66-game season."
A veteran NBA team doctor agreed, offering an interesting perspective.
"If you look at the statistics, the injury rates aren't up that much as you would expect," he told ESPNNewYork.com. "Part of it is having the shorter training camp, which cuts down on a lot of the injuries that people have in training camp. People are missing more games because if you have five games a week and you miss a week, you're going to miss more games. There are more games played during a shorter period of time. The injury that keeps you out a week will cause you to miss more games in a shortened season."
What Stern was a bit worried about was seeing some coaches rest their star players this week before the playoffs, but he said he's seen it before.
"I cringe, but then I un-cringe because we've always had the issue," he said.
One injury, however, that was up this season was concussions, which James Harden suffered from a vicious elbow blow from Metta World Peace last Sunday during the Lakers-Thunder game. Stern said he's working to make concussion testing standardized, in the same way every player needs to undergo an echocardiogram at least once a year during training camp.
"We're continuing to look at ways to help the safety of our players," he said.
Below are some fast facts about injuries suffered during the 2011-12 shortened season, starting with the Knicks (keep in mind the information is not a hard science, as there's nothing keeping a team from reporting a DNP as a coach’s decision when it was actually an injury).
For the Knicks, they had 21 separate injuries affecting 11 different players this season. That counts separate trips to the injured list for the same injury as separate instances (so Carmelo Anthony had three separate injured stints; two for his ankle and wrist, and one for his groin). Jared Jeffries is the only other Knick with three different stints.
Most Injury Events* Celtics -- 33
Timberwolves -- 28
Bucks -- 26
Nets -- 25
Magic -- 25
*Not counting the same injury twice
Most Separate Injuries By Player*
J.J. Barea (Timberwolves) -- 6 (hamstring, ankle, calf, ankle again, thigh and quadriceps)
Derrick Rose (Bulls) -- 5 (toe, back, groin, ankle and foot)
Jermaine O'Neal (Celtics) -- 5 (hamstring, knee, shoulder, wrist and wrist again)
Mickael Pietrus (Celtics) -- 5 (knee, shoulder, knee again, neck and knee a third time)
10 players -- 4
*Does not include stints on the injured list where the reason was not disclosed