The Mavs Scoop On Rudy's Knee Injury
Rudy Fernandez, the 2-guard acquired from Portland on Draft Night amid talk he might move into Dallas' starting lineup, created an immediate worry. As soon as he put on a Real Madrid jersey before donning a Mavs one, injury was among the biggest concern. (Also on the list: Rudy falling so in love with his homeland that he decided to never leave, and Rudy, after this one season in Dallas, opting to rebound to Spain). Those injury fears were realized when Fernandez tumbled to the ground in a recent outing and needed help off the court.
Scary business … and the sort of thing that had NBA GMs worried about any player playing competitively in non-NBA games.
The knee injury Fernandez sustained was initially thought to be serious but a subsequent MRI revealed a bit of good news. Fernandez did not suffer any structural damage but instead has "distension on the left popliteus muscle."
This isn't quite as complex as it sounds. "Distension'' simply means swelling, which is to be expected with a muscular injury. However, the muscle he did injure plays an important role in jumping and running. The popliteus is a thin muscle that forms the bottom of your popliteal fossa (the pit on the back of your knee). It helps with knee flexion (bending) and knee stability but one of its key roles occurs while an athlete is standing with his knees locked. As the athlete begins to bend the knee, the popliteus rotates the femur into a position to allow the knee to "unlock" and begin bending.
A strain to the area can directly affect an athlete's ability to run and jump, particularly with the first step. It can have a trickle-down effect on the hamstring and calf but fortunately the injury appears minor enough that Real Madrid – after initial concerns about missing a month -- only anticipated him to miss seven days.
Look for Dallas Mavericks ace trainer Casey Smith to spend plenty of time with Rudy early on before the Dec. 9 opening of training camp (contact allowable once the CBA is official agreed upon) insuring the injury does not affect Rudy's biomechanics. However, barring any setback, it's reasonable to assume Fernandez would be ready for Christmas Day.
Ready "physically,'' that is. "Mentally'' remains a wait-and-see.
Jeff Stotts is the medical editor at DallasBasketball.com and is the Head Athletic Trainer for Mount Saint Mary Academy. Jeff is also the Rotowire Injury Analyst for NBA, NFL, and MLB.
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