Adrian Peterson, ACL injuries and the burden to show and prove

(Boston Globe)

The loss of floor general Rajon Rondo will loom large for the Boston Celtics.

Adrian Peterson’s miraculous recovery from a torn ACL has set a new precedent in modern medicine and in the world of sports. Naturally, each injury and its severity varies per person. Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is the latest star to fall victim to the three most feared letters in sports.

Peterson’s recovery and performance after the surgery has given athletes hope of a return to form. In the same sense, the burden to hasten a comeback becomes greater than the recovery process.

Rajon Rondo’s torn ACL is one of the most significant to occur in the NBA since Derrick Rose tore his in Game One of the NBA Playoffs last April. Ironically, Knicks guard Iman Schumpert tore his ACL on the same day as Rose.

Schumpert returned to action last week, while Rose anticipates a return in time for the playoffs.

Last weekend, Atlanta Hawks free agent acquisition Lou Williams was diagnosed with a torn ACL. Williams was third on the Hawks in scoring and second in assists at the time of his injury. Williams’ injury hurts the Hawks because of his effectiveness at both guard positions. The Hawks are currently second in the Southeast division.

To know the impact of Rondo’s loss, check the reaction of Paul Pierce when he learns of his teammate’s injury. Pierce is the team’s elder statesman and Kevin Garnett is the C’s emotional leader, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts, Rondo makes Boston go. Rondo’s 11.1 dimes per contest leads the NBA. He is third on the Celtics in scoring at 13.7 points per game. Boston currently holds a 2 1/2 game lead over Philadelphia for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. There has been talk of everything from the death of the Celtics, to a quick first round playoff exit without their triple-double capable floor general.

Ricky Rubio was averaging 10 points and 8 assists for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season when he tore his ACL midway through his rookie campaign. Rubio went through a rigorous rehab to get back in the first weeks of the 2012-13 season. It’s safe to say Rubio isn’t the same player who evoked memories of Pete Maravich to some last season. In 16 appearances, Rubio is averaging 4 points and 5 assists in roughly 23 minutes of action this season.

No doubt, the Chicago Bulls are looking at Ricky Rubio’s struggles and urging Derrick Rose to take all the time he needs. The silver lining for the Bulls is they are currently third in the Eastern Conference. The additions of Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson, the All-Star play of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, and an increased emphasis on defense are just a few reasons why the Bulls have been able to buy time for Rose.

The multiple-ligament tears suffered by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is reminiscent of the injury Peterson suffered. Griffin’s knee was originally injured in the closing weeks of the regular season and ultimately gave out in the NFC Wild Card playoffs. The early prognosis on Griffin’s return is somewhere around Week 8 of the 2013 NFL season. Griffin’s position and the style with which he plays worries me more than anyone named above. Griffin will have the ball on every snap in an option oriented offense — where split decision-making is vital. NY Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is also recovering from an ACL injury and faces a tough road back as well.

Adrian Peterson’s story is a gift and a curse. His recovery and extraordinary season are the silver lining in days full of rehab, pain, questions, self-doubt and speculation. Injured athletes must realize each players struggle is their own. For every Adrian Peterson there is a Greg Oden or a Brandon Roy.



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