Knee injuries piling up for NBA stars

Knee injuries piling up for NBA stars

January 9, 2014, 8:00 pm
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Mark Strotman

Derrick Rose was sidelined by yet another knee injury, but he isn't alone.

More than most seasons, it seems, significant knee injuries have sidelined some of the best players in the game. That includes former All-Stars, up-and-coming stars and future Hall-of-Famers. Here's a look at some of the biggest names to miss time with knee injuries, and those superstars who have missed time with other bumps and bruises:

Russell Westbrook: The Thunder point guard hadn't missed a single game in his first five years in the league, but he's been bit as bad as anyone not named Derrick Rose by the knee injury bug. He missed the 2012 playoffs after undergoing surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. One month before the 2013 regular season began, it was announced he would miss the first four-to-six weeks of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to stop swelling in the same knee. But Westbrook returned much quicker than expected, missing just two games. His good fortunes wouldn't last, though, as two weeks ago the Thunder announced that their All-Star point guard would go under the knife a third time in eight months. He's expected to be out until after the February All-Star break.

Rajon Rondo: The only player point guard who hasn't hit the court this season, Rondo tore the ACL in his right knee in late January and was forced to miss the rest of the season. He still hasn't returned to the court as he approaches the one year anniversary of his surgery, though the 13-23 Celtics may not be in a rush to bring back their star point guard. Before he returns -- it could be sometime this month -- he may make a stop in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws to work on his conditioning and timing in a game setting.

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Kobe Bryant: The future Hall of Famer can't catch a break. Last year he was single-handedly bringing the Lakers to the playoffs when he ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left leg. The Lakers were swept in the first round and Bryant missed the first 19 games of this year's regular season. He made his return on Dec. 8 at home, but it lasted just six games. Three weeks ago he suffered a fracture in his left knee, forcing him out of the lineup for six more weeks. The Lakers have lost nine of 11 since Bryant's last injury.

Eric Bledsoe: Perhaps the frontrunner for Most Improved Player, Bledsoe is out indefinitely after it was announced he'll need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. In 24 games, Bledsoe was averaging 18.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists while helping Phoenix to a 19-11 record. The Suns are 2-2 since his injury and will now try and stay afloat in the ultra competitive Western Conference without arguably their best player, who is a free agent after this season.

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Marc Gasol: The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was off to a hot start in 2013-14 before he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. Gasol was averaging 16.0 points. 7.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Grizzlies, who have gone 8-14 since losing their star center (they were 7-4 with Gasol in the lineup). The Spaniard is doing some light court work and is expected to return to the lineup sooner rather than later, but he's now missed nearly two months after missing just four games the past three seasons.

Chris Paul: Prior to separating his shoulder last week -- which will keep him out 3-5 weeks -- Paul was setting NBA records, creating highlight reels with high flyers DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin and leading the Clippers to the top half of the Western Conference. Paul has dealt with nagging injuries in his career, and now he'll need to recover quickly as the Warriors and Suns fight for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Darren Collison will man the point guard position in Paul's absence, and so far the UCLA product has averaged 16.7 points and 6.3 assists in three starts for Paul.

Al Horford/Brook Lopez: Two of the best centers in the Eastern Conference were lost for the season early in the year. Lopez suffered a broken foot, while Horford torn his pectoral muscle again. The Nets weren't going anywhere with Lopez, but his injury crippled the frontcourt and team's championship chances. The Hawks were third in the East at the time of Horford's injury, and while they're still there a number of teams are closing in -- Atlanta is just 3-4 since the injury.