Last month, Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic sustained an injury with a projected recovery of two weeks. Now, some folks are saying he should keep healing and skip the playoffs. I know Greg Oden scarred y'all, but isn't this an excess of caution? —Barles Charkley
Ha! If only the Oden debacle were the only center-related tragedy to give Blazers boosters PTSD. Longtime fans have plenty more nightmares to wake up screaming about.
I'm not a real doctor, but I'd be shocked if the medical consensus about Nurkic's leg fracture was that within two weeks a complete recovery was guaranteed. Whether he plays or not—he was held out April 16 in the Blazers' Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors—we'll worry. Blazers fans understand that NBA centers are a fragile, delicate breed.
Even new Portlanders probably recall Oden, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft, whose achy, breaky legs bubbled up with season-ending injuries in four of his five seasons with the Blazers.
But there was also Sam Bowie, the center we selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1984 draft—ahead of MICHAEL FREAKING JORDAN. After a normal rookie season, Bowie suffered a broken tibia in each of the next three seasons.
And what about Arvydas Sabonis, the Lithuanian phenom we drafted in 1986? He played amazing—if injury-plagued—basketball for the next nine years. Unfortunately, he played those years in Europe, not for the Blazers.
By the time we got him, in 1995, the Blazers team doctor said based on X-rays, Sabonis qualified for a handicapped parking space. Still, he managed to limp through seven seasons on limited minutes, which makes him a tank by Blazers standards.
And now comes Nurkic, a deus ex machina who came out of nowhere to power a 13-3 stretch run that saved the Blazers' season, like what's-her-name showing up at the end of the "Teenage Dirtbag" video with Iron Maiden tickets. Is it any wonder we're careful with him? If I had my way, he'd be on bed rest till 2020.
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