Updated: Oct. 12, 2005, 2:00 AM ET
Stoudemire out four months after surgeryAssociated Press
PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns will be without All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire for about four months after he underwent microfracture surgery to repair damage to his injured left knee on Tuesday.
The extent of the injury was determined during "diagnostic" surgery by team doctor Thomas Carter, who then proceeded with the repair, Suns president Bryan Colangelo said.
Stoudemire, who turns 23 next month, signed a five-year, $73 million contract extension last week, the maximum allowed under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement with the players union.
Colangelo said the team knew of Stoudemire's knee problem during contract negotiations, but was not aware of the extent until Tuesday's surgery. The team projects Stoudemire to return around the All-Star break Feb. 17-21.
Carter detected the defect in an MRI exam several weeks ago and initially dealt with it through treatment and rest.
Stoudemire first talked about the soreness several weeks ago. After it worsened during last week's training camp in Tucson, he sought the opinions of three doctors before giving Carter the go-ahead for arthroscopic surgery.
"Dr. Carter, in consultation with Amare, chose the best course of action in terms of treating it aggressively and taking care of it now rather than letting it become a lingering problem," Colangelo said.
In a news release, the Suns said Carter repaired a joint surface defect roughly one centimeter in diameter on the inside of his left knee.
"The surgery went well and other than the defect that we treated today, Amare's knee is remarkably and structurally healthy," Carter said in the statement released by the team. "Given Amare's age and the nominal size of the location of the defect, I am confident the microfracture procedure performed will allow a healthy and normal return to action."
Considered the cornerstone of the franchise, Stoudemire has improved each year and was a main component of a team that won a league-best 62 games last season.
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound forward was fifth in the NBA in scoring at 26 points per game last season, his third in the league. He averaged 30 points in the playoffs, 37 in the Western Conference finals against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
Stoudemire's loss will leave the Suns with a vastly different team through most of the regular season. The only starters from last season's team will be the NBA's most valuable player, Steve Nash, and All-Star Shawn Marion.
"It's out of our control, so we've got to go out and make the most of what we have and not worry about the piece we're missing," Nash said after Tuesday's practice. "We'll try to build our team and hopefully be a better team when he returns."
Coach Mike D'Antoni said the team probably would go small more often to better utilize the personnel. Everyone will have to shoot more, he said, including Nash and Marion.
"We don't have any inside post presence," Marion said. "However you want to look at it, he's a beast in there, so we are going to miss that inside threat. But with Kurt [Thomas] and Brian [Grant], we do have some inside bangers.''
Stoudemire had been bothered by soreness in the knee for several months. He had worked out last week in training camp, but sat out the team's scrimmage and final practice to have the knee examined by three doctors.
"Amare will be fine," D'Antoni said. "I fully expect him to be great when he comes back and wow the fans for 10 more years."
Last edited by stuffedmushroomz; 10-12-05 at 02:22 AM.
My thoughts and prayers are with him for a speedy and complete recovery. He is an asset to the NBA and when a Championship means playing and winning against him, it only adds more meaning to the Championship.
Good-luck Amare and here's hoping we see you back soon.
good to hear.....he's going to be in some serious pain over the next couple of days though. Those who don't know, after this surgery, it's EXTREMELY painful for the first 2 or 3 days....I'm sure he'll be counting the minutes until he can pop another pain killer.
-"...nominal size of the defect..."-my impression is then that the percentage of cartilage damaged was relatively insignificant and this procedure was meant to prevent an eventual erosion of much more tissue (as opposed to repairing a much more significant amount of tissue damage). still, that area will now be filled in with much less resistant fibrocartilage and with the style that amare plays it may wear down within a few years again.
Suns, Amaré must avoid rushing back
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 12, 2005 12:00 AM
Did you quietly weep? Did you spend the evening spooning with your purple foam finger? Good. Now shake it off and forget what happened before Amaré Stoudemire's surgery.
Pay attention to what happens afterward.
High-stakes professional sports have spawned an environment where athletes push their bodies to ridiculous limits and owners stress about a return on their dollar.
This is where it gets tricky with the Suns. As their veterans - Steve Nash, Kurt Thomas - age, their window of opportunity for an NBA title shrinks. The sooner Stoudemire returns, the better.
For the sake of Suns fans, here's hoping neither management nor Stoudemire lets impatience get in the way of good judgment.
After Jason Kidd went to New Jersey, he grumbled publicly that the Suns pushed him to return too quickly from a fractured ankle. After Joe Johnson was traded to Atlanta, he told some he was frustrated by how the Suns handled his return following his fractured orbital bone.
Sour grapes? Maybe. At the least, it's a powerful statement that management and athletes rarely are on the same page when it comes to returning from an injury.
"There's a ton of gray area," Nash said. "Some injuries are worse than others. You feel you should fight through it, but you're concerned about the severity."
Stoudemire and the Suns need strong communication during the next four months to make sure this doesn't take a nasty turn.
If I were the Suns, I'd trust Stoudemire's radar. He knew something was off with his knee.
"You could just see in the two or three days he was in Tucson that he was running weird," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You knew something was wrong, because Amaré never has not wanted to practice. When he's on the floor, he likes to clobber people, and he was being a little gingerly out there."
General Manager Bryan Colangelo said, "The feeling of having a sensation of pain in the knee was something concerning to him, and it frightened him as it would any young athlete."
Stoudemire was vocal about his concerns, supportive of a magnetic resonance imaging exam. It may sound like an obvious reaction, but understand not every athlete would do this.
Athletes deal with injuries all the time, injuries that non-athletes wouldn't dream of tolerating, and they struggle with how to handle them.
"There's pride," Brian Grant said. "Pride can get you in trouble sometimes. Pride can keep you out on the floor, and now (the lesion in the knee) goes from a centimeter to a centimeter and a half, centimeter and three-quarters, 2 centimeters. He did the right thing."
Grant knows. He, too, underwent microfracture surgery on a knee.
Grant said it took him six to seven months to recover, though he admits he was dealing with several injuries at the time. Once he came back, it took him several more months to get in playing shape because of extra weight he put on during his rehabilitation.
Yes, Stoudemire had an MRI that revealed something was off before he signed his contract, although the team didn't know to what extent.
What were the Suns going to do? Not sign him? Sure. Then he'd finish out his year, bitterly sign with the Lakers and have a successful career elsewhere.
Bottom line: The Suns want a healthy Stoudemire on the court.
This type of injury can end careers (see Terrell Brandon). It can also have little impact (see John Stockton). Because the news hit so close to home with Valley fans - think Andre Wadsworth and Eric Swann - many are expecting the worst-case scenario.
I believe the Suns and their medical staff when they say Stoudemire's age and the small size of his defect suggest a "healthy and normal return to action."
For his young age, Stoudemire seems very in tune with his body.
The surgery was successful. The Suns and Stoudemire should exercise good judgment so that his return is, too.
as quoted by spurs43:
I believe this is the same surgery that Penny Hardaway had, and seeing how long it took him to recover plus other athletes recovery, I think 4 months is wishful thinking.
Hopefully the Suns organization doesn't rush him back.
This would be a fine time for Amare Stoudemire to reaffirm how truly amazing he can be.
To recover from microfracture surgery in a mere four months, as the Phoenix Suns' medical staff projects, Stoudemire might have to be more freakish than ever.
For no one in the NBA has ever rebounded that quickly from hole-drilling in the knee.
Tuesday brought word of the season's first major injury and, sadly, it's a doozy. With the Suns hopeful that they wouldn't lose the future of their franchise for more than a month, Stoudemire wound up having a surgery that quickly proceeded from exploratory to serious and promptly landed him on a team no one wants to join:
The All-Microfracture Team.
It features Jason Kidd and Allan Houston at the guards, Jamal Mashburn and Chris Webber at the forwards and Stoudemire, blessed with the potential to be better than any of those guys at their best, suddenly at center.
It sounds like an All-Star team, but it's actually a collection of famous names that has mostly encountered long, painful recoveries from a procedure that has returned only Kidd to the vicinity of peak form.
The good news?
Stoudemire is only 22. The defect that led to the surgery, furthermore, is considered far smaller and less serious than the original injuries which plagued Kidd, Houston, Mashburn and Webber. The Suns thus contend that they're taking an aggressive course to prevent a problem from becoming a major problem.
Combine that contention with Stoudemire's youth and you have the basis for the Suns' belief that Stoudemire can be back on the floor sometime after the All-Star break in late February.
"I would be a lot more down or depressed if I really thought this would affect Amare's future," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said by phone Tuesday night. "I don't think it will."
Earlier in the day, D'Antoni told reporters in Phoenix that he fully expects Stoudemire "to be great when he comes back and wow the fans for 10 more years."
Suns fans can only hope. They can also be pardoned if they're not quite ready to echo the coach's confidence, because it wasn't so long ago that Penny Hardaway, one of the league's first high-profile microfracture patients, never came close to living up to the rich contract Phoenix gave him.
And Hardaway is hardly alone. Microfracture procedures couldn't save Mashburn or Terrell Brandon and likewise haven't resulted in lasting improvements for Webber, Houston, Alvin Williams and Eduardo Najera.
Utah's Matt Harpring, who underwent his second microfracture surgery in April, hopes to be ready for Opening Night, which would represent a six-month recovery.
Just the stigma attached to the word -- microfracture -- inevitably generates a loud and fearful groan, especially with Stoudemire having signed a five-year max contract extension on the eve of camp. So soon after the controversial departure of Joe Johnson, no one in the desert was expecting another blow of this magnitude.
Definitely not so soon after Phoenix just invested more than $70 million on Stoudemire's knees and everything else.
D'Antoni, though, insisted the other day in Tucson that no one in the organization thinks they were duped. The Suns knew in the summer that Stoudemire's knee was bothering him and, as D'Antoni pointed out with a healthy dose of understatement, "I'm pretty sure we were going to sign him anyway."
The Suns also aren't budging on their belief that Stoudemire is a different case that any of the famous names before him, because of his age and the (lesser) severity of his injury and where it is inside his left knee.
Can Stoudemire make it back faster than the players before him?
He is a Phoenix Sun, after all, and an unquestioned freak of nature with his package of size, speed and power. So it's not impossible. (Although we'll have to see where the Suns are in February to gauge whether it's even worth rushing back for.)
Portland's Zach Randolph is another youthful power player trying to make it back from microfracture faster than ever before. Who knows? Maybe Randolph and Stoudemire can revolutionize the rehab process together, just as Stoudemire and Nash modernized the pick-and-roll.
You don't have to be a Suns fan to hope so. No matter where your allegiances rest, you'd miss the Suns and the way they run and gun if Stoudemire were to end up missing the usual six-to-eight months.
"Amare's a pretty amazing guy," said Suns point guard Steve Nash, the reigning MVP, of his favorite assist target. "I don't ever want to say there's something he can't do. We're just going to hope for the fastest possible recovery and try to be a better team when he comes back. There are lot of unknowns, and we have a lot to prove without him, but the mood is pretty upbeat considering."
phoenix is freaking out now
Amaré surgery clouds sports scene
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 12, 2005 12:00 AM [font=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]Suns superstar Amaré Stoudemire underwent knee surgery Tuesday morning, and to judge by the reaction on the street and in online chat rooms, there is now a brown cloud hovering over the Valley pro sports scene.
Yet the doom and gloom does not seem to match the news.
The Suns anticipate their franchise player will return to competitive basketball in "approximately four months," which is more than two months before the start of the 2006 playoffs. Besides, he's only 22, far too young to be ravaged by bad knees, and an ideal candidate to make a full recovery. advertisement OAS_AD('BoxAd')
So, why are we all freaking out?
"That surgery is a real serious surgery," former Cardinals star Eric Swann said.
Stoudemire underwent what is called a microfracture procedure, and that term chills an Arizona sports fan. Swann and former Suns star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway were explosive athletes who never recovered from the procedure. Just like Stoudemire, Cardinals defensive end Andre Wadsworth was a young stud who bankrolled a fortune, only to be done in by microfracture surgery.
The procedure, which essentially tries to rebuild torn cartilage by allowing marrow and blood to seep out of holes drilled in bone and clot in the injured area, has a long history of being hit or miss, and that alone is enough to ruin breakfast.
"You have to be really careful with this type of surgery," Hardaway said in a recent Sports Illustrated interview. "You really have to give the procedure a chance to work and for the knee to heal. If you don't, you're asking for trouble."
Since bowing out of the playoffs last season, the Suns have become a soap opera, and there are many nagging questions in this latest episode.
Who knew what, and when did they know it? Did the Suns know a microfracture was a possibility when coughing up $73 million? Is Robert Sarver fuming or, after a tumultuous off-season, did the hierarchy have no choice but to sign Stoudemire, no matter what their concerns?
Although fascinating, all these questions are secondary now that a sudden pall has formed over what has turned into a bummer of a season.
In early May, the Suns were 4-0 in the playoffs and looked title-worthy. The Diamondbacks were 20-15, full of promise and a game out of first place. The Cardinals were the chic pick to win the NFC West. Even the Arizona State football team seemed poised for a memorable season.
From the moment Joe Johnson busted a bone in his face, our fortunes have turned for the worse.
"With his work ethic and being that he's only 22 years old, you hope that this helps his situation," Suns fan Rogelio Ruiz said. "But what if he's never the same? It's all a guessing game now, and we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
The development of Stoudemire is something to be treasured by Suns fans and something uniquely Phoenix. Unlike the countless transplants and free agents that bounce in and out of town, Stoudemire's career started here. He didn't even bother to leave memories in some college town along the way.
For three years, we have seen the seed sprout and the defenders run for cover. We have witnessed the breathtaking origin of a Hall of Fame player. His dominating presence has kept the candles of optimism lit, particularly during the reconstruction of a 62-win team. With an athlete this special, it is only natural to fear the worst.
"I understand that people in this town are alarmed, that Stoudemire just signed a guaranteed contact, that the history of microfracture in this town hasn't been good," Swann said. "But I don't think he'll have a problem. He just has to stick with his program and be patient. You run a couple miles every night playing basketball, and you can't rush him back, even if they're losing games, even if they're using his contract as leverage. He has to stay the course and surround himself with great people."
Swann believes Stoudemire has three things working in his favor: his age, his weight and the nominal size of the defect in his knee. He thinks everyone needs to chill out and give the prodigy some room.
With the exception of the 2001 Diamondbacks, the local landscape has been a collage of futility. Since losing the coin flip for Lew Alcindor, the Suns have been spooning out the heartbreak. The Coyotes haven't won a playoff series since 1987 (when they were the Winnipeg Jets), and just when they seemed ready for prime time, Jeremy Roenick shattered his jaw. Every time you find a nugget of hope in the Valley, it's fool's gold, a lesson the Cardinals have been preaching for 17 years, and now it's starting to feel a little jinxed around here.
After all, it was Stoudemire, his steely demeanor and his prophetic tattoo, Black Jesus, that was supposed to get us out of this mess.
Reach Bickley at [email protected] or (602) 444-8253.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein - US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)
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