As Carmelo Anthony left the floor after a fall, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News tweeted:
Carmelo has had sore knees for much of the season. Most NBA players suffer from some form of tendonitis. Some worse than others.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) March 5, 2013
It's a very interesting point, and true, but one that has very little effect on the game. Saying that NBA players suffer from wear and tear is like checking the tires on cars in the parking lot—very few of them are going to be perfect, but most of them are going to get you home.
Amar'e Stoudemire gave a very similar take, saying that maintenance was the key.
Anthony is no better and no worse. He's not young any more (28), so wear and tear has taken its toll inside his knees. Any external trauma is going to cause pain and swelling, but reports from after the game indicate that the team's early tests indicate no structural issues. While most players will need some form of maintenance on their bodies, there's been no indication that Anthony has any sort of chronic condition.
Tendonitis is merely the inflammation of a tendon. With Anthony and most basketball players, the tendon in question is usually the patellar tendon—the large, thick tendon at the front of the knee. You can feel this tendon just above and below the patella (kneecap). One of the other common tendonitises seen is at the area called pes anserinus or "goose foot," which is a connection of three muscles in a conjoined or semi-conjoined tendon just below the knee.
Anthony does have a history of knee issues, though it is very short. He had knee surgery, thought to be a cleanup procedure on his left knee, in 2011. A couple times through his career, Anthony's weight has caused him minor leg or back problems, but there is no known issue involving a specific injury, especially to the knees.
The Knicks are certainly equipped to deal with this kind of injury. Amar'e Stoudemire has been one of the great success stories of microfracture knee surgery in the NBA but still requires constant maintenance by the medical staff. Anthony would likely be treated normally after games, which would include ice and anti-inflammatories. Before games, he would be warmed up and perhaps given anti-inflammatory injections. More aggressive modalities, like iontophoresis, have mixed results with chronic-type injuries such as tendinosis.
On the court, Anthony already wears elbow and knee sleeves. Those could help keep the area warm. He could elect to switch to a heavier neoprene sleeve if needed, though players tend to find those restrictive. The other thing he may have to consider is changing shoes. Modern shoes are very "sticky" and could tax the knee a bit more. A bit of slide might actually help in the short term.
The best case here is that Anthony is having mild swelling after a light trauma. A bit of rest and extra treatment should be able to get him back in this scenario, and he will miss little if any time while showing little if any effect. The Knicks will likely be a bit conservative with their star, perhaps reducing his time or even sitting him a game.
The worst case is that Anthony has had this condition and it is worsening. A comparable situation is the one experienced by Danny Granger. His tendinosis cost him the first half of the season and is limiting his play now that he has returned. A chronic knee problem could hurt Anthony and the Knicks in the short and long term, especially if the condition advances. At this time, there's no evidence that this is the path Anthony is headed down, but it is one that every GM dreads.
The Knicks will be careful with their star player, but at this point, it looks like Carmelo Anthony escaped serious consequences. Behind the scenes, the team will work to make sure this does not develop into something more serious. If Anthony can get back on the court and show no real issues for the next few weeks, we can all move on from this and give full credit to head trainer Roger Hinds and his staff.
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