On Tuesday, we talked to Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist from the Medical University of South Carolina, about Russell Westbrook’s second knee surgery.
Because it was arthroscopic, described as ‘minimally invasive’, and because it was required to alleviate swelling from a loose stitch, Geier seemed to classify it as good news, saying it “shouldn’t be an enormous setback, really.”
Sam Presti relayed much of the same, making it clear that the meniscus was healing fine, this was just a clean-up.
But Dr. Robert Klapper, an orthopedic surgeon based out of Southern California, seems to think it’s a bigger issue. Klapper went on ESPN LA Now with Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on Tuesday to talk about the news (You can listen to the interview here, starting at the 26:30 mark).
In the interview, Klapper provided a detailed explanation of why Westbrook’s initial meniscus tear took longer than usual to heal.
“I want you to think of the meniscus as a slice of apple pie,” Klapper explained. “If you tear the meniscus where the tip of the slice is, we clean it up and you’re playing within a few weeks. But in the case of Russell Westbrook, he tore his meniscus where the crust of the slice is. That’s in an area where we try to repair it when it tears there because there’s good circulation. We call it the red-red zone. Those are the cases, where when you operate, you got to keep the person on crutches, protect their weight-bearing and they’re not coming back right away. So that tells us that the first time they put stitches in, it obviously didn’t work and they’re trying to do it yet again.”
“What do they say about real estate,” Klapper continued. “Location, location, location. When we are talking about the lateral meniscus, the meniscus on the outside of your knee, versus the medial meniscus, the difference between the two is the lateral meniscus gets all the rotational pivoting when you make maneuvers. And that is Russell Westbrook’s game. It’s not just a pounding structure, it’s actually a rotatory stabilizer. So his game is absolutely going to be impacted because it’s the lateral meniscus and not the medial meniscus.”
From here, Klapper seemed to be operating under the assumption that Westbrook’s meniscus needed to be at least partially repaired in the second surgery performed on Tuesday, which, as Presti stated before, didn’t need to be done.
So when Klapper calls it a big deal, warning the station that Westbrook “will not be as explosive as he was before”, saying “he’ll probably be 90 percent compared to 100 percent,” the potential mix-up needs to be taken into consideration.
But his initial quotes, specifically on the kind of meniscus tear Westbrook suffered, are informative.
And with each passing day, the topic seems to be growing a bit more frightening to Thunder fans.