Kevin Durant is out indefinitely after experiencing soreness the right foot he broke back in October.
It’s brutal news for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who just can’t seem catch a break when it comes to injuries at this time of year.
But even beyond just this season, there’s concern that this is the type of injury that could potentially affect the trajectory of Durant’s career.
Durant suffered a Jones fracture of his fifth metatarsal — a bone on the outside of his right foot. Because there is limited blood flow to that part of the foot, it doesn’t heal as easily as other types of breaks. Multiple NBA players have had this injury in recent years, to varying results. Pau Gasol broke his in 2006 and hasn’t had any problems since. Brook Lopez first broke his in 2011 and eventually needed a surgery to reshape his foot.
The fear with Durant is that this will be something that lingers going forward.
“I think the worry is somewhat warranted, especially when you consider the involved player,” sports injury expert and certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts told Business Insider. “The re-occurrence rate and potential complications are relatively higher than other injuries. Additionally the timeline necessary for a full recovery remains difficult to predict from person to person.”
“That being said there’s been plenty of players to be fine after the initial injury,” he told us.
Back in October Stotts wrote a great post about the injury for his website In Street Clothes. Here’s how he summed up what makes this injury worrisome:
“Jones fractures can occur as an acute injury following a specific incident or they can develop slowly over time and be classified as a stress fracture. If it is indeed a stress fracture, additional steps may be necessary to determine if there is biomechanical reasoning for its occurrence.
“It gets worse. The inherent risk for re-injury is particularly high and surgery can’t guarantee anything. Hardware failure is a common occurrence and additional surgery could be needed.”
This has proved ominous.
Durant had a screw inserted into his foot in October. The Thunder said that the break was a stress fracture, and he’d be out six-to-eight weeks. He ended up coming back in seven weeks, during which OKC went 5-12. He played 27 games before suffering a setback in mid-February.
At that time the screw in Durant’s foot was rubbing against his cuboid bone, according to GM Sam Presti, causing irritation and soreness. The actual break was healing fine and the screw wasn’t damaged, but Durant needed a second surgery to alleviate the rubbing.
Since that surgery the soreness hasn’t gone away, GM Sam Presti said on Friday. Durant is now out indefinitely.
In October former NBA player Grant Hill explained why foot injuries are so scary for NBA players in an interview with Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
“People don’t realise whether it’s the foot, the toe or the ankle, that’s where your foundation is,” he said. “Every time you plant or you push off you’re going to have problems if you’re not right in that area.”
“Foot issues” is not something you want to hear if you’re an NBA player. Neither is “biomechanical reasoning” or “inherent risk for re-injury.”
Bill Simmons summed up the feeling on Durant among NBA fans and commentators, writing in early March, “Can’t mess around with feet. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t. Not in basketball. I’m worried.”
That has been the response across the board:
Big Men and foot injuries… history tells a sad tale. Durant removed from all basketball activities.
— Chris McKendry (@CMCKENDRY_ESPN) March 20, 2015
I would shut down Durant if I were Presti. Foot injuries are scary long-term.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) March 20, 2015
I lived through Penny and Grant Hill. I would hate to see Durant’s career derailed because of injuries. Don’t. Rush. Back. Please.
— Eddy Rivera (@erivera7) March 20, 2015
Again, plenty of NBA players have fully recovered from this injury and gone on to have long careers.
But it’s not like Durant fell and broke his arm. This is something that has altered careers in the past, which is why the level of concern is higher than usual.
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