Jabari Parker's long road to recovery officially starts today.
As expected, the second overall pick in the 2014 draft went under the knife in New York on Monday to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament. Per the team's official release this evening:
Milwaukee Bucks General Manager John Hammond announced that rookie forward Jabari Parker underwent successful surgery today to repair his left ACL injury. The surgery was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York by Dr. David Altchek with Bucks orthopaedic physician Dr. Michael Gordon assisting. Parker is expected to miss the remainder of the season while he recovers and progresses through his rehabilitation process. A timeline for his return to basketball activity will be established at a later date. Parker suffered the injury in the third quarter of Milwaukee’s win at Phoenix on Dec. 15.
It's possible Parker could be ready by the start of the 15/16 regular season, but there's a reason the Bucks aren't floating a timetable for his return just yet. Recovery periods for ACL reconstructions typically run anywhere from nine months to a year, in part because the psychological aspects of recovery and rehabilitation can often be just as important as the physical process. So we can hope for the best, but whether that means Parker can play in October 2015 or January 2016 or some other time entirely is going to depend on a lot of things we can't predict right now. Fingers crossed.
Fortunately, Parker appears to be in very good hands medically. Dr. David Altchek is something of a rock star in the world of orthopedic surgery: He's repaired Mariano Rivera's torn ACL, fixed Maria Sharapova's shoulder, cleaned up Kevin Love's knee, operated on Joe Nathan's elbow, and twice reconstructed Johan Santana's shoulder. He also offered insight into the causes of ACL injuries after Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert went down with their injuries in 2012. At the time, many were suggesting the league's lockout-compressed schedule played a role in the rash of severe knee injuries suffered by NBA players that season. But Altchek saw no scientific rationale for it:
"There is no evidence that wear and tear, or that kind of issue, playing too much, really has any correlation with ACL injuries in any sport that we've ever studied," Dr. David Altchek from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York said Sunday.
Altchek said ACL tears, far more common in female athletes, are scary injuries in that there's little explanation for how to prevent them. He said the non-contact version that both Rose and Shumpert sustained are often more prevalent in the strongest, healthiest athletes.
Perhaps most relevantly, he performed ACL reconstructions for both David West and Robbie Hummel, with both returning to the court within a year of their surgeries. West underwent surgery in April 2011, was cleared medically to play just six months later, and played in all 66 games of the lockout-shortened 11/12 season that began in December 2011. Meanwhile, Hummel went to Altchek for his second ACL reconstruction in November 2010, just six months after his first surgery was performed by a Purdue-affiliated surgeon. He returned to full preseason practice the following October and scored 21 points in Purdue's season opener on November 11, 2011.