The Thunder suffered what might be a fatal blow to their championship aspirations for the second straight season, once it was learned that their best interior defensive player in Serge Ibaka would be lost for the remainder of the playoffs due to a calf injury.
Last year, it was Russell Westbrook who was injured, tearing a knee ligament in the first round while battling the Houston Rockets.
That’s some terrible luck for Oklahoma City to suffer in consecutive years, and given the specific nature of Ibaka’s injury, it would appear that the misfortune involved was even more dramatic.
Reports out of OKC are saying the injury is a grade 2 strain of the plantaris muscle, and the recovery period is lengthy because of a high re-injury risk. Here’s an excerpt from a Sports Injury Clinic post on what we’re talking about, something actually known as ‘tennis leg.’
Tennis leg is a tear or rupture of the plantaris muscle and possibly the medial head or inside of the gastrocnemius muscle which is the larger of the two calf muscles.
The Plantaris muscle is a thin muscle in the back of the lower leg, which attaches just above the knee on the outside, passes down the back of the calf and inserts on to the heel bone. It’s function is to assist the larger calf muscles in plantar flexing the ankle or pointing the foot down. This muscle is actually absent in up to 15% of the population.
The injury most frequently occurs due to a force or trauma to the leg whilst the knee is straight. Movements such as jumping or pushing off may also cause tennis leg. Both movements are frequent in tennis, hence the development of the term tennis leg to describe this injury.
That’s right. The muscle Ibaka injured doesn’t even exist in 15 percent of the population.
Now, maybe without that muscle, Ibaka’s athleticism is diminished, and he isn’t quite the player we see today. But either way, there are plenty of people out there who don’t possess this muscle to begin with.
Ibaka, unfortunately for the Thunder, just happens to be one of the lucky ones.