On Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers announced that Brandon Roy would undergo surgery on both of his knees, all but ending his 2010-11 season before he ever really got going. The announcement, however, came as no surprise to the fans of an organization that’s been struck with jaw-dropping bad luck over the past two seasons.
In fact, Portland fans have largely become numb to injury announcements. Hearing about a Blazer dropping to the ground is now just another part of being a fan in Rip City.
And as Portland’s only major league team, there’s no other squad for fans to flock to, meaning we have no other choice but to continuously cheer on the oft-injured Trail Blazers.
Last season, Portland center and 2007 number one overall draft pick Greg Oden went down with a season-ending knee injury in December. This season, Oden was ruled out for the year before he ever played a single game.
With this being his fourth year as a professional, Oden has played in just 82 total games – which is the equivalent of one full NBA regular season. By the end of the 2010-11 season, Oden will have missed 246 games in his NBA career – and that doesn’t include the games he missed in the 2009 playoffs, the 2010 playoffs, and – if Portland makes it – the 2011 playoffs.
Brandon Roy, who appeared to be well on his way to stardom, injured his knee late in the 2009-10 season, causing him to undergo surgery and miss the first three games of Portland’s playoff series against Phoenix before unexpectedly playing in game four. Many believed Roy rushed himself back too soon, and considering he returned just 8 days after surgery – a surgery that usually requires 4- to 6-weeks of rehab – people might have been correct.
Roy will now play the remainder of his NBA career without meniscus in either of his surgically repaired knees. Coming into this season, the knee injury wasn’t even a thought in many fans’ minds. That is, of course, until the season started and we all saw Roy hobbling around, clearly less explosive than we’d ever seen him.
That’s when it hit us: Brandon Roy may never be the same player he was prior to the April 11, 2010 injury.
Now, at age 26, Roy will likely miss the remainder of the season due to a surgery that’s supposed to alleviate his pain as he hopes to make a full recovery – something Oregonians are certainly skeptical about.
If the pain stopped there, you could call it a coincidence; but it doesn’t, and it’s not.
The Trail Blazers missed over 300 games to injury last year. Then came the 2010-11 season.
In October, Portland lost power forward Jeff Pendergraph to a season-ending knee injury, and the team was forced to release him to create a roster opening. Portland used the opening to sign veteran Fabricio Oberto. Five games into the regular season, Oberto ended his season and retired because of a heart condition.Then the team announced that 2010 first-rounder Elliot Williams would undergo season-ending knee surgery.
Joel Przybilla, still rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury suffered in December of 2009, also missed Portland’s first 17 games this year before returning on December 3. He would also go on to miss 8 additional games after his legs flared up again. He returned January 4, but has been limited to a miniscule 6.8 minutes per game since his return.
Between Pendergraph, Oberto, Williams, Oden, Przybilla, and Roy, the Trail Blazers have missed over 360 games to injury this season.
If that’s not bad luck, I’m not sure what is.
Portland constantly looks for answers, and team doctor Jay Jensen takes every injury very personally, always seeking evaluations and second opinions from other doctors. Nevertheless, the injuries just keep on coming.
“I’m human,” Jensen said during a press conference announcing Oden’s season-ending injury. “And these guys are like our family. We’re with each other 7 months out of the year every single day… We develop a relationship with them and so it’s personal… You live and die with these guys because they’re like your own kids.”
You feel for the players, the coaches, and the team doctors. But at some point you have to start questioning how so many Trail Blazers keep finding themselves under the knife.
Is it just pure bad luck, or is there something more going on?
** UPDATE: The Trail Blazers announced on January 18, just 5 days after this article was written, that Portland center Marcus Camby would undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a slight meniscus tear in his left knee, an injury he suffered in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.