You are Jerry Reinsdorf and you’ve been watching a $94.8 million paycheck look good in a suit on the bench for most of the last three seasons. You have also thrown in the cost of an MRI or three for the same beneficiary — plus two knee surgeries and all that rehab.
Nearly six years ago, your sports medicine staff publicly advocated doing MRIs of all NBA players’ knees — before they are hurt.
In the summer of 2005, 14 Bulls players had an MRI done to both knees and the results appeared in the Journal of Knee Surgery in January of 2008.
Only three of the 28 MRIs were read as normal. Fully half of the knees had “degenerative” changes. Even more had meniscus abnormalities. (There’s a very good chance that Rose’s meniscus tear wasn’t new but instead a worsening of one already there.)
At the conclusion of the article, the authors — including Bulls orthopaedic surgeon Brian Cole, MD, MBA — wrote, “The fact that knee abnormalities vary widely in asymptomatic athletes is evidence to offer players preseason MRI for future comparison and to begin a registry of abnormalities ... This may prove to be clinically advantageous for injury prevention and improving diagnostic accuracy for knee complaints. Ultimately, a baseline MRI can be used as a powerful tool to better treat asymptomatic or symptomatic knees.”
Did you follow that advice?
Because diagnostic imaging tests (x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, & MRI) can also be powerful tools in contract negotiations.
If you are Reinsdorf, you must have noticed how your fellow MLB-team-owner, John Henry of the Red Sox, handled discussions with then free-agent Mike Napoli a year ago.
Initially signed to a three-year, $39 million contract, Napoli then took a physical that revealed a degenerative hip condition. Ultimately, the two parties agreed on a one-year, $5 million deal loaded with incentives. By season’s end, Napoli hit every milestone, earning $13 million — and a World Series ring. Playing first base instead of catcher, Napoli’s hips got a break. Everybody won.
You are Reinsdorf, though, and you know there is no position-change possible to protect Rose’s knees.
Consequently, you have to wonder if, in the final two years of his contract, Rose will live up to your expectations.
Meanwhile, as an NBA owner, you would probably like to fire commissioner David Stern for leading the league into that lockout of 2011 — if only he wasn’t about to retire.
Stern himself has admitted a higher-than-normal injury rate in 2011-12 — of which Rose was a large part — was the result of truncated training camps and the compressed schedule that followed.
Rose was among the early injured, ultimately missing 26 games with ankle, big toe, groin, and/or low back troubles at various times — before the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the playoffs and a fatigued Rose tore his left ACL.
You are Jerry Reinsdorf. You see the Angels’ contract with Albert Pujols, the Yankees’ contract with Alex Roderiguez, and what’s left of your contract with Rose. Will you agree to a long-term, high-priced contract with a player for the Bulls or White Sox ever again?
John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.