One Inch

  • One inch.

    One inch seems insignificant, except perhaps to your wives.

    One inch decides so many things in life. Vince Lombardi famously said that “Life’s a game of inches.” And every sport is decided by inches. Against TCU, our season may have been decided by one inch. The extra one inch that Joel Embiid’s knee did not bend backwards. One more inch, Embiid’s ACL was done.

    Coach Self said “I watched it on tape. I didn’t know it looked bad. It did look bad if you watched it. Basically we were fortunate we got out of that with it only being a slight sprain.” Uh, yea.

    Over the years, @jaybate and I have made mention how relatively healthy our KU teams have been. No torn rotator cuffs. No ACLs. No broken legs. No dislocated elbows. The Jayhawks have had their aches and pains, and “quilted wraps” around various body parts. But no catastrophes.

    Last Saturday night, we about had one. See the picture below. One more inch, and Joel Embiid’s season was over. With it, perhaps our national title hopes. Knees are not meant to bend that way. ACLs are the most curious of all ligaments. Shredding like a bad rope. Refusing to heal. Unable to heal. You can’t repair it. You have to replace it.

    Joel Embiid, as we discussed back in November, is the key to our assent. He is the single most important player in college basketball. By March, he might be the player most likely to decide the national championship chase. And that’s because no one in college basketball can match up with him. If you could pick one player right now to start your team, who would it be?

    We have speculated a bit about the extent of the injury. Is it more severe than coach Self is letting on? We don’t know. What is uncertain is whether the “slight sprain” as Coach Self stated has created instability that may plague Embiid for the rest of the season. Think about after you roll your ankle … the ankle is unstable and rolls much easier than normal until healed. That’s my concern with Embiid’s knee. After that hyperextension, it isn’t as stable. It may take 2-4 weeks to regain that stability. So we hold our collective breaths.

    But so far, we won this one. By one inch. Perhaps, when Coach Self is standing there with the National Championship trophy at Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas, on April 7, he might remember the night a few miles away in Ft. Worth when the season was decided by one inch.


  • @HighEliteMajor-A good friend of mine has a son 6’-10’’ tall. He played D-1 ball appx 20 yrs ago & his freshman year severely tore an ACL. Donor (cadaver) ligaments are used in reconstruction, & at that time, it was virtually a necessity to have a donor ligament very close to the same length. Knee ligaments that size were not harvested that often back then, & quite often smaller ligaments just did not repair damage properly & many careers ended, period. Those that did still compete, were never at level before the injury. Today medicine is advanced enough that success is almost a guarantee if the proper rehab is followed. Rick was in surgery almost 7 hours also & that is a really long time to be under-at least it wasn’t that common then. He really never was the same & though the advancements are monumental in reconstructive procedures, there truly is not a real guarantee. Joel may or may not have dodged the bullet this time, but with certainty, the knee will be unstable enough he’ll likely be wearing a brace from now on till the end of the season. If he is next time we watch him play, or if he does in fact not play vs ISU, either way, that inch may or may not have been enough. We’ll all just have to wait & see.

  • @HighEliteMajor " If you could pick one player right now to start your team, who would it be?"

    I forget who opened up this discussion a bit the other day; perhaps slayr did, when the discussion of Doug McDermott as POY candidate. It was asked that maybe the best way to judge a POY candidate would be to ask D1 coaches in March to pick their starting 5. I stepped in and asked the posters, and then I gave my starting 5. I did in fact pick Joel with my #1 pick. Now this was operating under the conditions of starting a team in March, not necessarily starting a program. Regardless, the pick would be the same.

    (just as an FYI, the rest of my March starting 5 were Russ Smith, Keith Appling, Wiggins, & McDermott. Wanted somebody with a little bit more of a rebounding advantage at the 4 than McDermott, but I just can’t stand Randle’s body language and court demeanor, and no other dominant 4s really came to mind.)

  • You’re not kidding, HEM. Felt like a gut punch when it happened. Here’s a good sign:

    “Just saw that nasty replay of my knee… I’m glad I’m ok” - @jojo_embiid

  • @HighEliteMajor Terrific post, HEM. Only game of the season I was not able to watch, as I have no access to ESPNU and do not have access to streaming Time Warner password for my rented winter lodging in S. Texas. That photo is horribly scary. ONE INCH…YIKES!

  • Sports are a game of inches.

    “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball three feet higher?” That’s what Charlie Brown said after the '62 world series ended with a line drive right at Richardson I think.

    What if Carlton FIsk’s towering fly ball had been inches more to the left?

    What if the Titan’s player (sorry names escape me) had stretched the ball a few more inches in the Super Bowl against the Rams?

    What if Mario’s shot had strayed an inch or two to the left or right?

    What if Don Denkinger’s vision had seen the two or three inches (feet?) between the Royals players foot and first base?

    What if the refs saw the inch between JoJo’s foot and the out of bounds line?

    What if the Butler players half court heave against Duke had been one inch shorter and gone through the basket?

    What if whatever missed shots/made shots had changed by one inch in KU’s triple OT loss to Carolina?

  • @HighEliteMajor that photo is also probably why Joel Embiid will not be wearing a KU jersey next season.

    I think about the speech that Al Pacino gives in Any Given Sunday. The crazy thing is, the margin is really smaller than that. We aren’t talking about inches in a lot of situations, we are talking about millimeters. We are talking about changing the angle by a quarter of a degree. We are talking about rotating a body 2 degrees, or turning a hundredth of a second sooner.

    The area that houses the ACL in the knee is fairly narrow. For most people, it’s only a few millimeters wide. The difference between blowing your knee completely out, spraining it, tweaking it, or just stepping awkwardly is the difference of about a millimeter each. That’s it. Four millimeters is the difference between a weird step and being crumpled on the floor grabbing your knee in pain. That’s less than half a centimeter.

    The even more frightening thing is that there is nothing all that notable about that play. It’s not terribly abnormal, or vicious. There’s nothing dirty or unusual about the play or the contact. But one or two millimeters more flex and Joel’s season would have been OVER just like that.

    How small is the window for success, really? For KU, that window may have been two millimeters wide, and that might have been just enough.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Valid perspective, HEM! Good job!

  • Not to imply injuries are a welcome sight or beneficial in any way, but without Brandon Rush’s injury do we win the title in '08?

  • @justanotherfan-One millimeter-that’s all. Minute, meager, microscopic, diminutive, slight, puny…the synonyms are many, but the measure of movement is precise & minuscule. So barely recognizable by the naked eye & in such an immeasurable degree of agony, when the doctor told me the torn rotator cuff pain would be even worse after the surgery, it just didn’t really register when he said that. But he was not woofing one bit. His description was that “one millimeter of movement will cause you great pain” was totally inadequate for preparedness of what was to come. I have shared this before, but I had a one inch tear in the labrum surgically repaired, & there really is no way for me to describe the amount of pain involved with the injury. Unless you’ve experienced this type of injury, it’s virtually impossible to characterize. And one mill-that’s a really skimpy, elfish analysis of calibration. Obviously an impossible variation for me to comprehend at the moment as I said, " It’s OK doc, let’s do it anyway." Let me assure you, that is just not a window of dimension that you can knowingly open or close when you wish. I worked in construction engineering & fabrication with tolerances, machining’s, & calipers & micrometers my entire adult life & yet I was in such anguish & misery I didn’t care what he said. Wow, as several board rats here know first hand, was he ever dead right. If Joel has not done permanent damage, it’s plainly a charity he received beyond human competence. Or maybe the stars were aligned, or the rabbits foot worked, or the salt over the left shoulder, or the Grace of God or just even as old friend says, “I’d much rather be lucky than smart!” Anyway we slice it up guys, as several of us that post on this board are dreadfully acquainted with, one flippin mill is not much damn room for error when your range of body motion is the topic of circumstance.

  • Honestly that is one of the spookiest photos I have seen of any KU player’s injury. My god, sit the kid if we have to–Joel’s health is more important. We have 5 bigs that can play, plus we have the depth to match up with ISU lots of ways. Its not a given that we suffer a loss if Joel sits, but I will trade a L or 2 ANY DAY over a blown knee for Joel.
    Now if the orthopedic MDs say he can safely play with a brace on, then Im ok with it.

  • @globaljaybird

    That was one of the most painful to read post on a rotator cuff tear that I’ve ever read. I can relate to it because I suffered just a small tear that drove me crazy for 25 years or so. It probably still would if I extended my motion in that shoulder. I hope you are not suffering with it today, but I know it is one injury that seems to keep on giving indefinitely.

    I’m not sure who said it, but I suspect it was Evil Knievel: “Your character has not been tested until you survive a torn rotator cuff!”

  • @drgnslayr-Slayr, we’ve exchanged notes in the past, maybe when it came to light that Zach Peters had a small tear. Surgeons explained to me that several muscles, ligaments & tendons actually form the cuff area that allows movement comparable to no other area in the body. They also stated that even the slightest of damage to any of the affected area can not only be permanently crippling, but create unending & increasingly more unbearable pain if left alone, without therapy, or without surgery. After rehab you can only expect to regain 60-70% of pre injury mobility, but recurrence of an additional injury can be as high as 40-50%. Trust me, I do not lift overhead anymore if at all possible. They also informed me that the tissues will shrink over time unrepaired, & that in itself can make surgery fruitless & futile, as if the % of recovery weren’t already small enough. Actually it’s a quite common injury for older people from decades of repetitive wear & tear, and career ending all too often for young athletes. It’s ended countless baseball careers & made a permanent DH out of the few that played at a decent level afterwards, & notably only Hal McCrae come to mind for me. Thankfully now ones’ knees are more fortuitously repaired than when Rick tore his ACL. When Danny Manning blew his out, he was never again the ignited & explosive sprinter he was at KU. He adjusted his game to that of a more physical & less mobile PF & enjoyed a long & prosperous career few if any had, just a few years prior with similar injuries. Far as I’m concerned, Danny’s triumphant resurgence from his devastating knee injuries is a huge ingredient in his storied legacy. JMO

  • @globaljaybird

    Spot on!

    I refuse to test my shoulder, and have for years. That pain has vanished and I don’t want to have it reoccur. I hope it doesn’t return at some point, either because I aggravate it or leave it alone when I should be working it. Back then, the pain was so sharp that it made me collapse, usually to my knees or flat on the ground. Very frustrating to never be able to get rid of it with therapy.

  • @drgnslayr_AFTER the surgery the pain was far worse as the Dr told me. The most adequate comparison I can describe would be like getting whammed with a sledgehammer on a broken bone & muscle tear combined, because in reality they trim off the tissue & then drill lags into the bone to reattach the tissue. There were times I actually did drop to the knees in excruciating pain from seemingly insignificant movement. If you stumble or trip-wow, major mistakes. It’s highly recommended you sleep upright in a chair for 10 days afterwards which was impossible for me. The sling immobilizes & protects you, but you simply cannot wear it all the while like showering, bathing or preventing fatigue & arthritis from settling in. Was 4 mo afterwards before I could get a shirt over my head alone without pain. Plus if you neglect to participate in PT rehab, no range of motion recovery is achieved, & risk of re tearing is extremely elevated. If one can live without having the knife they absolutely should, but was not really an option with the severity of my injury, as my quality of life was tremendously denigrated. Less than a week after the 2010 tournament loss to VCU, I went under the knife. There was about a 3 week period that was probably the lowest point in life I can recall, other than losing loved ones. You know it’s real bad when they list morphine & oxy contin as your selected options.

  • @globaljaybird

    Man, it hurts just to read your post. I had surgery on one shoulder about 25 years ago to remove scar tissue and the shoulder was fully immobilized for one month, at the end of which my arm just fell to my side and would not move; one scary experience. It took a couple of months of very painful rehab before I regained use of my arm. I vividly recall tears running down my face when doing therapy. More recently, I also had surgery on the other shoulder about 1 year ago to remove bone spurs that were causing tears to the shoulder tendons. The recovery was completely different as the surgeon encouraged me to start rehab as soon as possible and the recovery was a lot less painful and quicker, I believe it is likely a result of the much improved surgical techniques currently available.

    I have also had 3 kidney stones and the pain of those, although of shorter duration, was a lot worse than the one from the surgeries. If the one you experienced is comparable or worse (and it sound like it) than a kidney stone, I salute you because you sir are indeed a brave man.

  • @globaljaybird That’s an agonizing injury to have. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It’s amazing really. The human body can stand lots of pressure and stress, but if that pressure comes at the wrong angle, or just a bit to one side or the other, the damage could be life and career altering.

    You could probably go back through footage of Joel cutting where he is putting much more force on his knees than he is in the above photo. But in those instances, the pressure and stress is aligned with the joint and everything flows smoothly.

  • @justanotherfan-We’re all aware that Bill wants his guys to play with pain, & many have & do, but I would personally like to see Joel sit this one out tonight. Like HEM says, instability is a very real concern. Let Lucas & Jamari handle the load in the paint here at home & let Wigs & co destroy the Clones for good.

  • @globaljaybird

    I feel for what you have been through. Mine surely wasn’t nearly as severe, and I am trying to imagine how tough it was for you, and I only experienced enough with mine to know that I CAN’T imagine what you went through!

    If I had to describe the sharpness of my pain, it was like someone driving an over-sized ice pick into my rotator that was connected to 220-volts… all in one swift action.

    When someone like Evil Knievel talks about it as being a bad injury… it must be bad! I believe he has the world record for broken bones and impact injuries.

    I always played through pains from various injuries… never could I deal with that pain. It put a new definition of “sharp pain” into my vocabulary.

  • @drgnslayr-My injury was incapacitating to say the least. When I injured myself I immediately knew I was hurt bad, but not really how severe. Tried to put up with it for about 3-4 months, then as sleeping & getting dressed became more & more impossible, made the Dr appt. He actually told me before the xrays & MRI that he has a similar, but lesser RC injury from, of all things, playing BB, & that he would not have the surgery until it became unbearable because the recovery & therapy Gorilla are just too great. He knew what he was talking about for damn sure. Your arm weight is around 15# give or take, & I could not even raise my arm above my waist so really had no choice. After the surgery was even much worse but I’ve really become to sound as a stuck record describing the situations, so I apologize for appearing as such a wuss & drama queen. This is actually a very common injury for us older people due to decades of wear, tear, & repetitive motion, but is truly a surgery that one should fully consider consequences before going through with it.

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