Although the Lakers managed to once again poach the best center in the NBA, rumors continue to swirl about the status of his recovery. After suffering a herniated disc last season, Dwight went on to have back surgery to repair the damage.
However, at the trade presser discussing the deal which made him a Laker, Dwight mentioned that he hadn't started running again yet and gave no indication as to when he might return.
Back injuries are no joke.
In March, earlier this year, I was playing flag football with a few friends in a park. It was a cold and blustery day, but I was determined to get outside and get some exercise. I was a slot wide receiver and had caught a few different balls thrown my way and was feeling pretty good. Then, I quickly turned to catch an underthrown pass - and felt a distinct pop in my lower back.
At the time, I thought it was nothing more than the standard pops and cracks that come with getting older (I'm 27, but I know you feel me on this, Thursty, LongWindedHank and BobInBoulder). I tried to brush it off and keep playing. But as I kept running, my lower back got tighter and tighter until it was so painful I could not stand up straight. When I got home later that day, it was all I could do to drag myself to bed, and for the next 4 weeks I had to walk very awkwardly as my back very slowly recovered. I couldn't stand at more than a 45 degree angle. Every step was met with an arrow of pain and my range of motion was extremely limited.
Eventually, I saw a chiropractor who believed that I had misaligned my sacrum in my lower back, alongside my multifidus muscle. He had me lie on my side and exhale, then pushed very hard on a hip, and I felt the same sort of pop-crunch noise you might hear when smashing a bag of chips in your hand. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt at all, but certainly felt strange. I was, however, feeling a lot better afterwards - but with a caveat. To this day almost 6 months later, I still feel twinges of pain in my lower back even after walks and light exercise. I'm not sure it'll ever be the same.
Now, Dwight Howard is one of the world's most athletic individuals being overseen by a team of medical professionals and has been independently evaluated more times than Seattle Slew's been ridden. But as I can attest from my own experience, back injuries can linger, and frequently result in recovery setbacks. I do feel that Dwight will have a successful season with the Lakers - but the question remains: when?
If the Nuggets make a strong push with Dwight sidelined due to a still-ailing back, then it will look even more clear who the winners of the trade which brought both Howard and Andre Iguodala to the West were.
Is Dwight Howard's Back a Bigger Concern Than Lakers Are Letting On? - Ethan Sherwood of the Los Angeles Times' Bleacher Report discusses the potential issues surrounding Dwight's back injury. A "source" within the Lakers states that his back is healing "very slowly". Will Dwight be back before Christmas?
NBA Teams Average Data (Height, Weight, Age, Roster Size) - Hispanosnba.com has some excellent information on team averages, as well as lots of information about current rosters, team salaries and other useful data. According to them, the Lakers are the third oldest team in the NBA, with an average age of 28.5. The oldest? The Knicks, with an average age of thirty. Conversely, the Nuggets are the 7th-youngest team in the NBA, with an average age of 24.5.
Metta World Peace Considered Retirement due to Back Issues - Metta World Peace, nee Ron Artest, discusses how his back issues (a "lumbar disorder") nearly led to his retirement. He also posted career-lows in points, rebounds, and FG% last season.
Amar'e Had Bulging Disk For a Year - Amar'e reveals how his own disk issue set him back and caused him to come into training camp out of condition. Add that on top of his knee and his eyeball injuries and a locked-in contract with 3 years and $65 million remaining.
Red Flags on Jared Sullinger due to Back Issues - Despite the predictions of this piece that Sullinger would fall out of the first round due to significant concerns about the health of his back, he was picked 21st overall by the Celtics. It's not hard to see that of many different types of injuries, back problems in the NBA are big concerns for every player.