By Rich Levine
I was out picking up dinner last Wednesday when Kevin Garnett strained a muscle in his lower right leg.
So as KG knelt over halfcourt, tapping out on Tayshaun Princes sneaker, my DVR was frozen in time at the five-minute mark of the first quarter.
I was waiting at the restaurant when the first text came in:
This injury looks bad.
First of all, I knew if Ed Lacerte was texting me during a game, it must be serious.
OK, it was friend Jay. And I had no clue what he was talking about.
KG. Went up for a dunk. Non-contact. Looks like his knee.
I thought so. They just confirmed on TV that its his knee.
Sometime during this conversation, another text comes in,
I will die.
It was my friend Nick.
KG? I wrote. Did it look THAT bad?
Looked like the exact same thing that happened last time.
I walked into the apartment, pushed play and just watched. The Celtics were running up and down the court like it was any other night, but I knew what they didnt everything was about to change. I spent most of those next few minutes just focused on KG, looking for signs of injury (he seemed fine) and waiting for the bomb to drop.
It was really pretty depressing. Not only because I care about the fate of the Celtics, but also because Garnett had quietly become one of the better stories of the NBA season. It was impossible not to marvel at the level hed worked himself back up to since struggling for most of last year. And the knowledge that his comeback was presumably about to derail was awful.
Anyway, I saw the injury and it was pretty much what I expected. It was exactly how theyd described it. It was just like Utah. He went up for the dunk, something clicked in the air, and he landed in a ton of pain. Afterwards, he wasnt even just limping on the same leg; it was the same limp with the same mannerisms and weight distribution.
Land on left leg, hops three times. Try to walk, hop three times. Try to walk.
His face was pained. It wasnt just physical pain, though. He looked like a guy who knew that something was wrong. Or at least thats how a lot of people perceived it. KG looked like Wes Welker on the sidelines last January in Houston. He looked halfway terrifiedhalfway devastated.
Honestly, who knows with KG? Hes obviously a supremely intense and emotional guy. And he was especially hyped on Wednesday with all the Charlie Villanueva stuff. So maybe he was just fired up, or lost in the moment, and overreacted a little.
Either way, his actions didnt leave you optimistic.
By the time my DVR caught up with the world, KG had already blown up Twitter. No one knew for sure what had happened, but the media on the scene were already widely reporting that it was his knee. At one point, you could even see Ed Lacerte inspecting the knee on the bench. It could have very well just been standard procedure. Maybe he was just trying to rule it out. Maybe KG had an itch. But in that one second, he was looking at the knee, the cameras picked it up and it was another reason to think the worst, which everyone did.
Then came the unexpected good news. And in a hurry.
Basically, as soon as the game ended, there was only positive (or at least relatively positive) information coming from the Celtics. Teammates said they didnt think it was bad. Doc said that it was a muscle in his calf muscle, not the knee. There were KG sightings on the team bus. The Cs tweeted out the official breakdown:
Muscle injury to the outside of his right leg, below the knee and above the ankle. He is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.
Next came word from the team that the MRI wasnt even a necessity; that it was basically just something they were doing to give Kevin some peace of mind. Of the injury, Doc said, "It was pretty clear what it was. Honestly, Eddie told me at halftime. Once he told me Garnett would be all right, I was gone."
So they waited for the results of the MRI, and then announced that KG had a strained muscle in his right calf area (more specifically, the area right below the knee) and will be out for 2-3 weeks.
That brings us to now four days after the announcement and the question of the hour:
When do you think youll see him again?
So far, I get the sense that a lot of people breathed a huge sigh of relief after the Celtics prognosis. It feel like the majority are comfortable with the 2-3 weeks (especially relative to an entire season), and feel that the calf should heel, the knee will be fine and we'll see him in the middle of January. They think the Celtics just dodged a huge bullet. And thats fine.
But I think the bullet nicked them. And we have to wait and see what happens next.
Thats not to say I think the Celtics are lying. It seems like you cant have questions about KG's leg without someone inferring that you think the team is intentionally giving out false information. I personally dont think they are.
In fact, in spite of all the craziness of the 2009 season, I dont think they lied then either. I think they genuinely believed all along that Garnett would improve enough to play first, by mid-March, and then by the playoffs. No one realized how bad the bone spurs were and how much they were affecting his recovery.
Maybe they kept things a little more secretive when it came time for the actual surgery. There are still certain things from the procedure that are unclear. But when it came to the last few months of the lost season, I think the Celtics were just trying to find away to get KG back on the court, and were maybe even a little too honest.
So, when I look at this story, I'm not skeptical about lies. Im just concerned that, so far, 2011 truth is so similar to 2009.
This a story from the Seattle Times after Garnetts first injury:
PHOENIX Boston Celtics officials say forward Kevin Garnett will miss from two to three weeks because of a strained muscle behind his knee.Garnett returned Friday to Boston after injuring the knee on the team's West trip. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Saturday that team doctor Brian McKeon diagnosed the muscle strain after tests and an MRI.Garnett injured his knee while going up for a lob pass from Paul Pierce late in the first half of Boston's 90-85 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday. Garnett landed gingerly and immediately motioned to the bench for a substitute.
This is an injury that looked the same. And now its being diagnosed almost the same at least at this stage. And while I know there are other factors at play, Im at least going to make this injury show me that its different before I officially breathe that sigh of relief.
Am I encouraged that hes not out for the season? Yes, of course. But truthfully, I never really worried about that. I never thought he tore his ACL, or broke a bone, or anything else that have would immediately shelve him for the year.
Instead, from the moment I got those texts, I thought: Oh no, here we go again. I think a lot of us did. And I havent had any reason to stop. When that time comes I'll gladly exhale, but in the meantime it'll be three weeks of cautious nose breathing.