OAKLAND — Cavaliers coach David Blatt has faced criticism from some quarters in the wake of Kyrie Irving’s playoff ending fracture of his kneecap. Why did Blatt play Irving 43 minutes? Did he and the Cavs push Irving to get back before his body was ready and that led to a non-contact injury where Irving’s knee buckles?
Blatt does not buy even the basic premise of this argument — that Irving’s knee just gave out.
“My take on the injury was that he got kneed in the side of his knee,” Blatt said Saturday. “It was a contact injury, and the result was a fracture of the kneecap.”
Did the tendonitis that Irving has battled all season have anything to do with the injury?
“You know, that’s a doctor’s question, but in my opinion, absolutely not. It has nothing to do with it,” Blatt said.
Cavaliers GM David Griffin echoed that second idea.
“It’s an injury that is completely separate from the nature of his previous injury,” Griffin said. “I would be naive to say there was absolutely no correlation because we’ll never know. But every objective measure we have, all the opinions that were gathered, everybody who saw the images, they all agreed that there was no additional risk.”
First, we should not confuse contact with intent — there is no way a rational person can watch the video of the injury and suggest Klay Thompson intended to injure Irving. I would certainly hope that is not what Blatt was going at.
If there is contact, it’s relatively minimal and not outside the norm that happens a lot over the course of an NBA game.
Was Kyrie’s injury due to tendonitis and overuse? We don’t have the details of the injury but as was pointed out in a fantastic article at The Sporting News, a fractured kneecap usually happens when a tendon snaps and takes a piece of kneecap with it. That appears to have been what happened to Irving.
I’m no doctor, in this case it may well be impossible to say. But studies have shown that overuse of muscles and tendons can lead to this type of injury. Draw your own conclusions.