Starting Dec. 9 when training camps open, guys are going to get injured. And when it happens you are going to inevitably hear an announcer or that fool down bar from you drinking Bud Light say, “That’s because of the lockout.”
No, it’s not.
While it seems intuitive, it just doesn’t work that way. A guy spraining his ankle or injuring his knee could have happened at any point — whether it was working out or playing in the Chinese Basketball Association — because those things just happen. It wasn’t the lockout, it was bad luck. If anything, players may have saved wear-and-tear on chronic injuries, those could be less of an issue (although the condensed schedule will not help).
Don’t take my word for it. Will Carroll — the injury expert at Sports Illustrated — has studied NBA injuries in depth and in a post at The Point Forward he blows up the lockout-induced injury.
Traumatic injuries are random in when they occur, but predictable in how often they occur, according to a proprietary study I did for an NBA team two years ago… The gist of the study is that certain events make a player more likely to be injured traumatically and that traumatic injuries predict chronic ones. Players have a greater chance of suffering a traumatic injury if they persist in doing certain athletic activities over a long period.
While I can’t give you the details on the study, one such activity is jumping. Yes, jumping. It puts a strain on a player’s knees, ankles, hips and back. Players land wrong or land on someone else’s foot. It turns out the traumatic injuries are just the inevitable buildup of odds rather than a purely random occurrence. It’s Russian Roulette with a really big cylinder.
Which brings us back to the lockout and injuries. There’s simply no evidence that the lockout or even just a time away from the paternalistic embrace of a team increases the risk of injury. In the NFL, the lockout was widely believed to be problematic…. The general injury numbers have continued to stay in the normal range all season long.
But what about those nine guys in the NFL who injured their Achilles in the first weeks of the NFL season? Last season with full camps there were eight of those in the same time frame. Basically the same number.
So when your favorite player goes down, go ahead and curse the basketball gods. Just don’t blame the lockout.