Lonzo Ball’s knee pain remains a mystery. “Even the doctors are a little surprised,” the Chicago Bulls point guard said. – Denver Post

As Lonzo Ball undergoes his second surgery on Wednesday to treat a lingering meniscus injury, the source of the pain sidelining the Chicago Bulls point guard remains a mystery.

Nearly nine months after Ball first injured his meniscus in a Jan. 14 game against the Golden State Warriors, Bulls medical specialists still don’t know why Ball’s knee isn’t responding to the surgery and rehabilitation. Ball hasn’t been able to run or play basketball since, remaining on the sidelines as the team opened training camp on Tuesday in preparation for the 2022-23 season.

Knee pain weighs on Ball’s life, the twinge every time he tries to climb the stairs at home.

“It’s something I’ve never dealt with,” Ball said. “Even the doctors are a little surprised. We are all working together to figure this thing out.

Wednesday’s debridement procedure is another attempt to identify the source of the pain. Ball said the problem wasn’t clear in MRI scans, so the surgery will allow doctors to scan the area around his meniscus while removing debris such as cartilage and tissue.

The main concern is a limited range of mobility created by the pain. Ball said his knee loses strength every time it bends between 30 and 60 degrees, inhibiting its ability to spring into motion or explode in a new direction.

He spent every day of the offseason with a specialist: coaches, Bulls medical staff, rehabilitation specialists in Los Angeles and Chicago. Although Ball noticed small improvements over the summer, his mobility and power never improved enough to return to the court.

“There was a time when we were warming up and stuff and I was going through certain days and it would be fine,” Ball said. “But then whenever I was doing real basketball activities, I just couldn’t do it.”

At the onset of the injury, Ball was confident he would return by the playoffs.

Recovering from a knee injury is familiar territory for Ball, who previously injured his meniscus while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. The solution was simpler – removing part of his meniscus, followed by a standard rehabilitation period – and Ball made a quick and full recovery.

But this process was completely different. The Bulls approached his recovery with urgency to attempt a playoff comeback, but Ball couldn’t pass the hurdle of the run painlessly.

Nearly nine months later, he said the lack of information about his injury added to his frustration.

“I’m not going to say we (rushed the recovery) because I already tore my meniscus and came back and everything was fine,” Ball said. “I thought I was definitely going to be back for the playoffs. I think we all thought that would be the case.

“But something weird obviously happened. I’ve never felt pain like this, so it’s definitely a unique situation.

At 24, Ball is already facing questions about the longevity of his career, which has been defined by injuries: a sprained MCL, a torn ankle ligament and injuries to his adductor, knee, flexor. hip, shoulder and thumb in four seasons with the New Orleans Lakers and Pelicans.

Ball hasn’t played more than 65% of a season yet, and that limited playing time dulls the shine of his precise transition passing and tenacious defense.

“I’m not going to say I’m worried about it, but obviously I wish I didn’t have to have surgery,” Ball said. “The plan this whole summer was to stay out of surgery, but at this point that’s all that’s left. So that’s something that needs to be done.”

For the Bulls, the more pressing question is when – and if — Ball will be ready to play this season.

He will return to Chicago after Wednesday’s proceedings in Los Angeles to begin another rehabilitation attempt. The Bulls have announced a recovery schedule of four to six weeks, but their predictions are not yet accurate.

Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas did not comment further on the Bulls’ hopes for Ball’s return during Monday’s media day, saying he did not know how many. long it would take Ball to pick up speed each time the pain subsided.

As Ball’s doctors continue to search for the cause of the pain, the Bulls face a growing possibility of playing a full season without their starting point guard. But Ball said he couldn’t consider the possibility as he was facing another operation.

“It’s not on my mind at the moment, but it would be the worst case scenario,” he said. “I know I can’t get back on the court until I’m comfortable playing and can’t really play. Whenever that day comes, that’s when I’ll put the jersey back on.


denverpost sports

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