Sam Presti isn’t a comedian. Far from it.
Even his funny bone is dead serious.
But on the day he announced that Serge Ibaka might be able to play after all in the Western Conference Finals, might be able to help the Thunder against the Spurs, maybe Presti was feeling like a lot of Thunder fans. Maybe he was a little giddy.
How else to explain the Thunder general manager’s answer to a question about the treatment that Ibaka has been receiving for a strained calf?
“Nothing different than what normal people would do, I think.”
Wait, I think he was being serious.
And if he was, we’re supposed to believe that the Thunder treated Ibaka’s strained calf the same way, say, I would treat a strained calf. I’m pretty much a normal person, regardless of what some people might lead you to believe.
And what do normal people do after they hurt themselves?
Google it up.
I typed in “treatment for a strained calf muscle”, and the first option was an entry about strained muscles on WebMD.com. A fairly reputable site, from what I know, and it said that the most important thing with strained muscles is the PRICE formula — protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation.
First, you have to protect the muscle from further injury. For me, that’d mean going to the house, sitting on the couch and making sure the kiddo didn’t jump on me.
For Serge, it’s possible Navy Seals were involved with his security detail.
Either that or copious amounts of bubble wrap.
Next up is rest. Serge sat out Game 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Finals. Isn’t that how normal people rest after a muscle strain?
Ice is the third part of treatment. In my house, we’ve been known to use bags of frozen peas to ice muscles. In a pinch, we’ll even use frozen edamame.
I assume Serge hasn’t been icing his calf with frozen vegetables or legumes. It’s way more likely that the Thunder flew in blocks cut from the Antarctic ice sheet.
Compression is the fourth step to rehabilitating a strained muscle. This is where Ibaka’s treatment could really go high tech and even a bit sci-fi.
Compression for normal people comes from an Ace bandage. Snug and supportive, but not too tight. But we’ve already seen evidence that the Thunder does compression a bit differently.
A couple years ago in the lockout-shortened season, there were lots of games in a short amount of time. Muscles tired much quicker and much worse, and adding the playoffs into the mix only added to that fatigue.
To combat it, the Thunder gave players compression pants. They looked like full-length leggings, and they were meant to be worn off the court as much as possible. Guys put them on after games, then wore their street clothes over them.
How much it helped is anyone’s guess, but it sure didn’t hurt — the Thunder went to the NBA Finals.
Who knows how much the technology has evolved since then? Earlier in these playoffs, Russell Westbrook was spotted before a game in MC Hammer-like pants. They were a different style of compression garment, presumably meant to help keep his repaired knee in tip top shape.
And hey, if you really want compression, how about a hyperbaric chamber? The pressurization stimulates blood flow, which decreases inflammation. Who’s to say Serge didn’t stay in Oklahoma City while the team went to San Antonio so he could sleep in one of those babies?
Michael Phelps did it a few years ago, then won four golds at the 2012 Olympics.
Most normal people aren’t wearing Hammer compression pants or hanging out in a hyperbaric chamber, though I did discover hyperbaric chambers for sale on Amazon. Only $5,495. Seems like a steal of a deal for an NBA team trying to rehab its defensive stalwart.
Last on the list when rehabilitating a muscle strain is elevation. Frankly, this only adds to the hyperbaric chamber theory since things create high-altitude conditions, like sleeping at 8,000 feet.
Oh, we’re talking about a different type of elevation?
Well, Serge can prop up that leg up on a pillow stuffed with hair from a unicorn and feathers from a phoenix.
Again, normal people stuff.
Listen, I have no idea what treatments the Thunder used with Ibaka. Friday morning, I asked Presti a couple different ways about the steps that the team took, and each time he swatted away the questions like he hopes Ibaka soon treats Spur shots.
“When these things happen,” Presti said, “there’s a program that gets put in place.”
What does that involve?
“It’s getting to the point where he’s being put in game-like conditions when he’s capable of that to replicate those situations on the floor.”
Yes, but how he’s gotten to that point is a mystery that the Thunder isn’t interested in sharing. (The Spurs would content that there’s no mystery, that this was all cloak-and-dagger stuff, that Ibaka was coming back all along. Gregg Popovich even joked about it Friday, saying, “I know Sammy” becoming perhaps the first person in the history of the world to call Presti by that name.)
By the way, WebMD says that once a muscle strain has healed, one of the next steps in preventing another injury is to start an exercise program.
Hey, Serge, what about Sunday evening at The Peake? A little running and jumping and swatting shots into the fifth row perhaps?
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.