Knock on Wood

Injuries are a part of sports and will always be (unless steroids are not only legalized but encouraged, just kidding). And some players, and in some extreme cases teams, are cursed with a nearly constant injury bug that strikes at the most inopportune time, but to be fair there isn’t an opportune time. Two of the most recent cases are that of Michael Redd and the much discussed and unseen Blake Griffin.

Michael Redd, the Milwaukee Bucks forward who is rumored to be good but can’t stay on the court long to prove it, has recently gone down with an injured knee and will be out the remainder of the season. I would be sad or disappointed or something, but Michael Redd is always hurt, or at least seems to be.

I know he is supposed to have a nice touch from outside, and he does have an excellent stroke. He came into the league as a defensive specialist and worked his way into the playing roster for Milwaukee when he kept torching Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson in practice long ago (what a forgotten era of Bucks basketball). Eventually the Bucks rid themselves of Allen and Robinson and Redd was given leadership status of the Bucks. Milwaukee has gone on to do very little since.

I have always viewed Redd as a knock-off Ray Allen, and that is no disrespect to Redd. It is sort of like the soda knock offs that are slightly cheaper at the grocery store and almost taste as good, but you can definitely tell the difference. Redd is primarily a three point shooter who can defend players at times but can’t really carry a team. Allen was that before Redd, only better at shooting and his all around offensive weaponry, and he could carry a team better than Redd.

Redd needs to be traded and has needed to be for quite some time now. I think it is pretty obvious that nothing positive is going to be spawned with Redd in Wisconsin and now they have budding-star Brandon Jennings to build around. Although I thought the time for a change was necessary a while ago, the next opportunity to trade Redd seems to be the best option for the Bucks at this point. How that happens, I have no idea at this point. Redd is aging and an injury risk every year with a big contract. That’s hard to move.

Blake Griffin would be the other man with knee troubles. News broke today that he would miss the remainder of the season with knee surgery. Is this the Los Angeles Clippers’ luck or is it karma catching up with them for being notoriously cheap and stupid? I personally want to say karma but I hurt for Blake. With so many doubts surrounding the prospect of his talents effectively translating to the pros the worst thing that could have happened to Griffin is miss a lot of games. Missing the whole season seemed improbable at least for such a physical specimen. I mean, the closest Blake has been to an actual game has been in a suit and tie a row behind his teammates.

And knee injuries aren’t to be taken lightly, especially in the NBA where almost everything relies on jumping. Sure, advances in medicine and technology have made knee injuries less likely to completely steal a player’s quickness and jumping ability, but the risk still remains. Amar’e came out the other side with little but a scar and the slightest of decreases in his athleticism with a knee injury (you could barely tell had you never known about the surgery).

There are many scenarios that could unfold from this point on. One of which is that this injury is just a precursor to a slew of others (that seems to be the unfortunate path that Greg Oden is on, I hope that he can snap out of it for Portland’s sake). Another of which is that when he returns, hopefully at the beginning of next year, he just picks up where he left off in the preseason where he demonstrated his athleticism and dunking aptitude. The other scenarios? They are just shades of grey between the first two scenarios.

This is precisely what Los Angeles was hoping to avoid when they selected Blake with the first overall pick last June. While other teams have already seen the fruits of their labor pay off (Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry) the Clippers are playing with almost the same hand that they had last year. Sure, they have improved since last year and are almost contending out in the tough west, but what could they be doing if Griffin was anything near what he was hyped to be? Could they be in the 8th spot? The 7th? Who knows, but it is unfortunate for basketball fans that we wont know for at least one more year.

It is the disappointment of promise when a potential star goes down with an injury, especially early in the year. Nobody wants to play a game of “what if”, but injuries beg for the game to be played. What if Greg Oden was able to play his rookie season and develop normally? Would the Blazers be the Lakers’ main foe right now with an almost veteran and big center and a talented wing player in Roy? Or if Arenas never got injured. Are the Wizards contending for a top seed in the East the past two or three years instead of an Orlando, Boston, or Cleveland?

My point is that while injuries are to be expected, it doesn’t make their impact any less detrimental to the team or the league. I hope both Redd and Griffin come back with more impact than ever, but history has taught me to not get my hopes too high.

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