CHICAGO — It’s been a long time since Pau Gasol fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot. He’s played eight more years, won two championships and changed teams twice since then. But after news broke that reigning MVP Kevin Durant is scheduled to miss six to eight weeks with a fifth metatarsal fracture of his own, Gasol reminisced on his 2006 surgery.
“Fractures happen,” Gasol said on Monday night, after the Chicago Bulls’ 110-90 preseason win over the Denver Nuggets. “I had a stress fracture of my fifth metatarsal (bone). I started to show some signs two years prior to the fracture and I was able to hold out for almost two years. From the point they started to see the little line of stress until the point actually broke, it was a year and a half or so.”
Gasol had his foot surgery in the summer of 2006, which kept him out of the final of the FIBA World Championships, where he was a member of the Spanish national team. The Memphis Grizzlies training staff had been monitoring his injury well before that, hoping it wouldn’t come to surgery.
“Each individual’s a little different,” the 34-year-old big man said. “Some are just fractures, some are stress fractures. Some happen quicker than others. On mine, I did feel it for a while. I was hoping that it wouldn’t break and I wouldn’t have to get surgery, but it did.”
Gasol missed 26 games for the Grizzlies in 2004-05, playing in all four games of the team’s first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs. He played 80 games the following season before doctors determined he needed surgery in September. He didn’t return to the Grizzlies until December of 2006.
“I was out two months before on a bone stimulator to try to get the bone to heal,” Gasol recalls about the time he missed in 2005. “We tried, but it was also playoff time for my team, with the Grizzlies, and I came back I think for the first playoff game that we played. Those are just decisions you have to make. Injuries happen all the time.”
The Thunder, who courted Gasol heavily this summer as a free agent before he decided to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for the Bulls, appear to be taking a more proactive approach with Durant than the Grizzlies did with Gasol. He’s expected to undergo surgery soon. Gasol doesn’t have any particular advice for Durant, other than something simple: This could happen to anybody.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself, but there’s a luck factor,” said Gasol. “Injuries happen in this profession unfortunately but it’s part of our job, and there’s not much we can do besides take care of your body, make sure you’re on top of everything you’ve got going on, your weaker spots, and then understand that we’re all vulnerable and nobody’s unbreakable.”