Richardson out 9-12 months after knee surgery

Richardson out 9-12 months after knee surgery

February 8, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Jason Richardson won two NBA slam-dunk contests in 2002 and 2003. His between-the legs-dunk in 2003 three was one of the most explosive, athletic slams in the history of the contest.

In the preseason when the Sixers entertained the Celtics, the then 31-year old Richardson showed he still had such hops with a one-handed slam in transition. He added a 360 dunk to his Sixers highlight reel in a game against the Bucks.

Unfortunately, that Nov. 13 dunk against Milwaukee may be the last above-the-rim experience for the 6-6 guard.

Richardson confirmed on Friday morning that he will undergo season-ending knee surgery next week to repair a hole in the cartilage of his left knee.

“I have a hole the size of a quarter in my knee that is required to get fixed,” Richardson said. “It is going to be a long process to getting back on the court. I mean it’ll take anywhere between nine and 12 months.

“What they do is take a cartilage graft from someone else and pretty much implant it in there. I think the reason it takes so long to heal is that it needs to take and that is why it is such a long recovery time.”

Dr. Jonathan Glashow of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City will perform the surgery.

Richardson will be on crutches for six weeks and in that time he will also have no weight-bearing activity.

In his 12 NBA seasons he has never experienced such a devastating diagnosis. In the 2006-07 season he missed 31 games but every other season Richardson missed no more than 10 games. He has appeared in 838 games total.

Richardson joins Andrew Bynum and Thaddeus Young on the sidelines, taking three starters away from Doug Collins. Bynum has yet to play this season because of his own knee problems, and Thaddeus Young is in the first week of a 3-4 week recovery from a strained hamstring.

“You feel bad for them because injury is never fun,” Evan Turner said. “Then you knock on wood that it won’t happen to you. You just have to stick together and keep working and obviously it means there is greater opportunity for other players, and tons of people want to play.”

On Thursday Richardson sought a fourth opinion from an orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania. He could not recall the doctor’s name, but Richardson heard what he was told three times prior.

“The first time I heard it I wasn’t accepting it at all; you don’t want to hear anything like 6-9 months or 9-12 months,” Richardson said. “Once I went to [Dr.] Glashow and he said the same thing, then I kind of accepted it a little bit ... I saw it is reality that I have to get this done.”

“I am incredibly disappointed for J-Rich,” Collins said after Friday’s practice. “From his standpoint this has to be a little unnerving. At this stage of his career, to have that kind of surgery, the recovery time is going to be lengthy.

“This is a guy whose career has been explosive with his jumping and all. J-Rich is down and I can understand that. We miss him but we hope that he is going to have a good recovery.”

If Richardson was offered a different path to good health he would have taken it, but surgery appears to be the only real solution.

“I would have tried to play but if I just got it cleaned or scoped to get the loose cartilage out, because of the size of the hole it would have just kept on grinding down and next thing you know it would have been bone on bone,” Richardson said. “I have too much life to live after basketball; I have kids I want to be able to play with and stuff like that. I didn’t want to take that chance of getting it cleaned and end up being bone on bone.”

Richardson said doctors could not tell him how the hole in the cartilage came to be, which frustrated him.

“The last game I played in I watched five times trying to figure out if I did something,” Richardson said. “It is just one of those things where it broke off and I have to get it repaired. It could be something I did in the past and then the wear and tear of the season, it finally broke off. It is a weird situation but it definitely was not something I did in that last game.”

Richardson last appeared in a game on Jan. 18 in a win over Toronto. He played 28 minutes and scored seven points. In 33 games with the Sixers he averaged a career-low 10.5 points, shooting a career-low 40 percent from the floor and 34 percent from three-point range.

For his career, Richardson averaged 17.3 points and shot 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from behind the arc. His 1,577 made threes are 13th-most in NBA history.

The veteran shooting guard is under contract through 2015 with the final year being a player’s option. He is owed $12.8 million after this season.