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Postseason Rocked By Another Big Injury

The Houston Rockets recently announced that Yao Ming has been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs after suffering a small hairline fracture in his left foot. The injury -- which occurred at some point (even Yao said he couldn't remember) during the Rockets' 108-94 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 on Friday -- essentially allows the Lakers to advance to the conference finals without stopping on Go.


This hurts. (AP Photo)

It also adds to a 2008-09 regular season and postseason that has been decimated by injuries to elite talent. The Gilbert Arenas-less Washington Wizards were doomed from the start. Would Shaquille O'Neal have missed the playoffs for the first time in 16 years if Amare Stoudemire hadn't been scratched in the eye? And in the postseason, the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets can credit quick first-round exits to the absence of injured stars and the admirable yet futile efforts of hobbled ones. Injuries are part of the game, but basketball is a sport where one player going down can mean the team goes down. I was nervous when I thought Yao was hurt in Game 1. Seeing him go down for good really stinks.

I'm currently down here in Orlando, covering the Magic-Boston Celtics series. This morning, I spoke with another reporter about how awful the postseason has been because of all of the injuries.

"Wouldn't this series be so much better if Kevin Garnett was going up against Dwight Howard?" I asked.

"What about Jameer Nelson?" the other reporter asked back.

The defending champion Celtics have played well without Garnett, defeating the Chicago Bulls (who were playing without Luol Deng) in a classic, first-round series. But they look gassed against Orlando. How much more entertaining would these playoffs have been with a healthy Garnett, or Nelson, or Tracy McGrady, or Manu Ginobili, or Tyson Chandler or Elton Brand? The list goes on.

You want to see the best play the best, instead of what's left of the best. It's like watching Playoffs Lite. Same Uniforms ... Less Talent.

These playoffs are like a meaningless exercise, leading up to a seemingly inevitable NBA Finals matchup between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (although the Denver Nuggets are making things interesting out West, with a little help from the referees). The Rockets looked like a formidable opponent for the Lakers, even without fallen star McGrady. No matter how gritty and resilient this group has proven to be, the Rockets probably have just two more games left without Yao -- and more questions to answer about the durability and reliability of their two highest-paid stars.

Yao only missed two games his first three seasons in the league, but he has established a solid reputation for being fragile ("He is made of China," someone once jokingly told me.) the past four seasons. He missed 25 games in 2005-06; 34 in 2006-07; and 33 last season (including six playoff games) with another stress fracture in the same foot. After representing his native country in the Beijing Olympics, Yao played 77 games this regular season, led the Rockets to 53 wins and their first playoff series victory in 12 years.

Now, Yao will serve as a 7-foot-6 symbol of a lost season. That is, unless LeBron and Kobe (or possibly Carmelo) can deliver a compelling -- and injury-free -- NBA Finals. If that happens, the damaged goods along the way will likely be forgotten. Until then, we are left to enjoy the Injured-Plagued Playoffs.

By Michael Lee  |  May 9, 2009; 10:38 PM ET
 
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Comments

Michael,

Let me be the first to say I am sorry for writing you don't work on weekends,

I was wrong.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 9, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Did the Olympics cause all of the injuries? Was a twelve month season the problem? The athletes need several months off to recuperate and train at their own pace.

Posted by: bobl2 | May 10, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Yao might be a bit more "fragile" than most, but the string of injuries plaguing the postseason is an outcome of an unreasonably lengthy regular season. 82 games is absurd as the wear and tear takes its toll eventually. The season needs to be shortened for many reasons; the aim of preserving players for the playoffs being another.

Posted by: jjuma | May 10, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Michael, you're a talented writer, excellent reporter, and clearly a hard worker. What you clearly need, however, is an editor. If you've got one, he or she is incompetent. I don't have the time or energy to go through all the little errors, grammatical issues, etc. From time to time, as you may have noticed by now, I will email you to give you some helpful hints. But in all honestly, it's time the Post gave you an editor who is worth a damn.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 10, 2009 3:28 AM | Report abuse

I don't have the time or energy to go through all the little errors, grammatical issues, etc. From time to time, as you may have noticed by now, I will email you to give you some helpful hints....

Posted by: Barno1 | May 10, 2009 3:28 AM

Barno1

It's a blog...when will people understand that and quit trying to give english lessons

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 10, 2009 5:32 AM | Report abuse

A lousy way to go out. Not that I thought they'd beat the Lakers, but still, Houston is one of the teams (along with Denver) that gives everything they've got.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

"The Gilbert Arenas-less Washington Wizards were doomed from the start. "

Mike, how soon you forget.

Granted Les BouleS didn't have a good chance of getting deep in the playoffs two seasons ago, but with BTH in the lineup sans Gilby, they went about as far as Les BouleS have ever gone in recent years.

So clearly, "doomed" is an exaggeration.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Seeing Yao go down with injury year after year makes me wonder when its all over for him will he just be a big guy from China that could play.

DC_MAN88, you always talk about the curse of Les BouleS, there may be a bigger one, the curse of Yao Ming.

I seriously thought after that second game when LA punked Houston and took the game from them, that Houston with there Team Defense would meet LA's intensity and beat them.

But Yao's history of injury continues and sadly Houston has no chance. Yeah, there is a bigger NBA curse.

The Curse of Yao Ming.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | May 10, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Barno1,

If the written language is your forte, then school us when you post. However, not by pointing out our shortcomings, but posting in flowing grammatical magnifancancy yourself.

"But in all honestly, it's time the Post gave you an editor who is worth a damn.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 10, 2009 3:28 AM"

That statement you just wrote; is there anything wrong with it?

Do you think you might need an editor too?

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | May 10, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Rockets shudda played Yao 40+/game like the Wizzies do for their stars and it woulda tuffened him up.
I doesn't need no editor either.

Posted by: VBFan | May 10, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Seeing Yao go down with injury year after year makes me wonder when its all over for him will he just be a big guy from China that could play.

DC_MAN88, you always talk about the curse of Les BouleS, there may be a bigger one, the curse of Yao Ming.

I seriously thought after that second game when LA punked Houston and took the game from them, that Houston with there Team Defense would meet LA's intensity and beat them.

But Yao's history of injury continues and sadly Houston has no chance. Yeah, there is a bigger NBA curse.

The Curse of Yao Ming.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | May 10, 2009 11:21 AM "

First off, most people on this blog couldn't care less if there's a curse of Yao Ming. Even if there was a curse, it would be a curse of Houston, not Yao Ming, unless you want to call it the curse of Gilby also, since he's had more issues with his knee than Yao's had with his foot.

At least Houston hasn't committed the amount of money to Yao as Les BouleS have.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah, there is a bigger NBA curse.The Curse of Yao Ming.LarryInClintonMD"
dcman: "Even if there was a curse, it would be a curse of Houston, not Yao Ming.."

This is a very 13th Century sort of discussion you're having, gang.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"This is a very 13th Century sort of discussion you're having, gang.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 2:36 PM "

No wonder you joined.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Another thing I'm wondering about last season's version of the Wizards: are persistent hints coming out of the locker room that the vets weren't happy with the play of the young'uns. The coaches and the vets get a lot of criticism here for not playing the kids enough (or leaving them on the floor long enough at a stretch) and the vets get skewered for not 'mentoring' them -- but could it be there are grounds for discontent with the attitude of the younger set?

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

"Another thing I'm wondering about last season's version of the Wizards: are persistent hints coming out of the locker room that the vets weren't happy with the play of the young'uns. The coaches and the vets get a lot of criticism here for not playing the kids enough (or leaving them on the floor long enough at a stretch) and the vets get skewered for not 'mentoring' them -- but could it be there are grounds for discontent with the attitude of the younger set?

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 2:53 PM "

Duh..

Did you just awake from a season long slumber?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

dcman: "Duh.."

Didn't have to wait long, did we?

Reading the dcman posts, I get the feeling we're back in fifth grade, and he's POed because little Gil Arenas winked at his 'girlfriend'...

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if anybody's watching Houston demolish Los Angeles, but maybe Kalorama is right and the Lakers are more vulnerable than we thought.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"Didn't have to wait long, did we?

Reading the dcman posts, I get the feeling we're back in fifth grade, and he's POed because little Gil Arenas winked at his 'girlfriend'...

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 4:32 PM "

And Delilah151 is upset b/c Gilby winked at his boyfriend....back to fifth grade.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

dcman: And Delilah151 is upset b/c Gilby winked at his boyfriend....back to fifth grade."

What an honor: I got my own unfunny pejorative nickname, and my very own unjustified slur!

Now if I can only figure out how to get paid like the others that dcman resents....

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Whats the scoop on Garnett?? The network commentators sometimes talk like he's fit enough to dress out and play- What's his ETA??

Posted by: frak | May 10, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if anybody's watching Houston demolish Los Angeles, but maybe Kalorama is right and the Lakers are more vulnerable than we thought.

Posted by: Samson151

Chauncey's Nuggets are going to make a SERIOUS run..

Posted by: frak | May 10, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

"What an honor: I got my own unfunny pejorative nickname, and my very own unjustified slur!

Now if I can only figure out how to get paid like the others that dcman resents....

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 7:34 PM "

It speaks volumes that you would feel honored. Now crawl back under your rock.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

But as long as Lebron keeps playing like Alien Psychofreak, nobodies gonna beat them Clevelands, regardless of Green Garnett..Lebron is breaking new hyperspace and is a legitimate threat to be the greatest basketball player of all space-time..

Posted by: frak | May 10, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

"But as long as Lebron keeps playing like Alien Psychofreak, nobodies gonna beat them Clevelands, regardless of Green Garnett..Lebron is breaking new hyperspace and is a legitimate threat to be the greatest basketball player of all space-time..

Posted by: frak | May 10, 2009 10:01 PM "

A bit understated, but I agree.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 10, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

big baby hits the game winner and shoves 12 year old . he's hilarious

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 10, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Big Baby said, "GET OUTTA MY WAY!!" , man, thats why you love basketball..But, seriously, need to know, what's the status on Garnett?? When is he gonna be available to play?? They won't be able to compete against the rising tidal wave which is Lebron without him..

Posted by: frak | May 10, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

KG fears Lebron. out

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 10, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

After the game,Professor Lebron addressed the lecture hall: " Basically, we're all just trapped in the jello of the space-time continuum. I'm actually a chinese punk rock girl from the year 2087. You see, punks is hippies, hippies is plants, plants is space. The train is a dark Roman ghetto where sneaky peasant women hang their laundry (this is hangtime). My movements are a kind of subliminal feng-shui..The emperor has no body and the Borg are knocking. We the People.."

Posted by: frak | May 11, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

frak,
Missed the post-game Lebron lecture. My question; what flavor is the space-time-continuum jello and are there any marshmallows involved, besides the Pistons and the Hawks? Is the Lebron variable that manifests in our limited dimensionalities a projection of a single or multiple actuation in other dimensions or parallel universes? Does the crab dribble derive from the crab nebula?

Posted by: midlevex | May 11, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Only old crabs dribble...

Some of the divisonal semi-finals actually got interesting there yesterday. Aaron Brooks, c'mon down and join the Rajon Rondo pantheon of unheralded college point guards who stepped up in the playoffs.

Could the Lakers actually be toast? Hard to imagine the Rockets doing that in Staples Center but at least it is good TV.

Posted by: khrabb | May 11, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

johnathan..johnathan..johnathan..No, just so long as the chinese punk rock girl stays out of the Lunar Earth Psychiatric Institute Lebron will do fine..Dribbling?? Learning to eat with a spoon can be difficult, but it can be done..

Posted by: frak | May 11, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I still say Orlando in six.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | May 11, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"I don't know if anybody's watching Houston demolish Los Angeles, but maybe Kalorama is right and the Lakers are more vulnerable than we thought."

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 5:12 PM

That game is exhibit A why the Lakers didn't win the title last season and probably won't this season. They've got maybe the best coach in the game, probably the best player in the game, and more talent top to bottom than any team in the playoffs. But they don't play consistently with the kind of focus and toughness (mental or physical) that championship teams need. They think all they have to do is show up and win, and that if things gt tough they can just stand back and let Kobe bail them out. Even if they get into the Finals, I can't see them beating the Cavs, who are making it a point to crush their opponents whenever the opportunity arises.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 11, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Reading the dcman posts . . .

Posted by: Samson151 | May 10, 2009 4:32 PM

There's you're first mistake, right there.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 11, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

EDIT:

There's your first mistake, right there.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 11, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"There's you're first mistake, right there.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 11, 2009 11:14 AM "

Your first mistake is any point you're trying to make any day.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 11, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

"Your first mistake is any point you're trying to make any day."

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | May 11, 2009 5:27 PM

So, even if I'm making my 213th point of the day, it's still my first mistake? Well, that kind of math goes a long way towards explaining some of your posts related to player salary issues.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 12, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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