Knuckle push-ups caused Loveâ€™s hand injury
OCT 18, 2012 1:44p ET
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love broke his right hand doing knuckle push-ups, the team said Thursday. Love suffered the injury Wednesday morning while he was working out with personal trainer Rob McClanaghan, but the cause of the injury wasn’t revealed until the next day.
Also Thursday, Love consulted with Dr. Andrew Weiland at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The doctor determined that surgery on the fractured metacarpals in Love’s hand will not be necessary and confirmed that a six- to eight-week recovery process is likely.
Love tweeted a message to his followers Thursday after the appointment:
"Would like to thank all of you who reached out to me in the last 24 hours. This is a minor setback and I will be back stronger."
In an official statement through the team, Love explained that he’d chosen to work out at home before practice due to a post-practice commitment. He’s usually one of the last players out of the facility after workouts and spends significant time lifting weights, so it makes sense that he’d have wanted to take care of that before arriving at Target Center.
Love also said knuckle pushups are a part of his regular workout routine, though such push-ups are usually more necessary for boxers and other athletes who rely heavily hand strength. Upon suffering the injury, Love said, he knew immediately there was a problem; after breaking a bone in his left hand three years ago, he’s accustomed to the sensation.
"Although I'm disappointed that this injury happened, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible," Love said. "We have added a lot of depth to our roster this season, and I have complete confidence in my teammates and coaching staff that they will step up and we will be successful during this time. I'm looking forward to supporting our team and helping out any way I can until I get back on the court."
A day after the injury, the shock has at least somewhat subsided among Love’s teammates and coaches. There’s a bit of space to laugh, to lessen the gravitas that now surrounds this first month of the season, and even the timing of coach Rick Adelman learning about the injury while point guard Ricky Rubio was doing pushups nearby provided a dose of humor.
"I think (knuckle push-ups) should be taken out of the repertoire for sure," Adelman said. "In fact, all pushups, anything you do with the hands. I looked over and saw Ricky doing pushups after I heard about it, and I said, no, let’s stop there."
The Timberwolves returned to practice Thursday for the first time since learning of Love’s injury. Although the power forward missed Wednesday’s practice, the official diagnosis and prognosis did not come until after the team had finished its workout. Despite the loss of Love, Adelman said the team had a good practice, and from here, the Timberwolves will spend the rest of their preseason devising a way to compensate for Love’s absence.
Last season, Love led the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds. That’s a lot of production for the Timberwolves to make up, especially because they’re also missing Rubio, who will not return until after Love is back on the court.
Replacing Love will be a tag-team effort. Right now, the plan involves Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham, Lou Amundson and even Andrei Kirilenko splitting minutes at power forward, and their distributions and combinations will be tweaked in the coming weeks. Any assumption that Williams, a true power forward who’s been moved to small forward at times in an attempt get more minutes, will simply be handed the job is bogus; he’s done little yet to warrant that, and he’ll have to earn his spot among solid competition.
"Derrick, obviously, can be very good offensively," Adelman said. "Dante’s terrific defensively. Lou can be very physical at that spot … Andrei is another dimension."
Since the beginning of training camp, the Timberwolves have been touting their flexibility. So many players can play so many positions, but what was once a blessing is now a mandate. The team’s flexibility will be crucial in Love’s absence, and the need to step up goes beyond his fellow forwards. Chase Budinger might slide more to small forward as Williams and Kiriklenko assume some of Love’s duties, and there will be more urgency for shooting guard Brandon Roy to emerge as the scorer he has been in the past. Everyone from guard J.J. Barea to center Nikola Pekovic is going to feel this absence, and they’ll all need to rise to the occasion in equal measure.
That sounds a lot like the approach the team was supposed to adopt last year after Rubio’s injury and myriad others – supposed being the operative word. Few players took advantage of the opportunities afforded them by so many injuries, and this season, it will have to be different. But with a largely new crop of players and a team attitude that already is noticeably improved, that shouldn’t be too difficult.
"That’s exactly what I’m here for," Cunningham said. "Any player that’s at this level that doesn’t want to play more, you definitely have to question their motives."
With an injury of this magnitude, a team’s recovery is always a multi-part proposition. There’s the tangible, the adjustments to the lineup and the bench players transitioning into starting roles, but there is also the matter of emotion. Losing Love is undoubtedly upsetting, but the team can’t get lost in a "woe is me" attitude. Instead, players need to remember the positives. Love will be back soon, perhaps just four weeks into the season, and there’s sufficient depth to scrape by. If they keep that in mind, there’s no reason that this has to become a self-perpetuating cycle of lose a game, lose morale.
On Thursday, Adelman’s mantra seemed to be "I don’t know." I don’t know if we’ll have enough depth to survive. I don’t know how they’ll respond. I don’t know who will get the bulk of Kevin’s minutes. I don’t know. He’s still processing, still renegotiating his ideas about the team and its maximum potential.
For now, that’s fine. No need to be hasty in making decisions when the one upside to this is that there’s still time. But soon enough, Adelman’s players must step up and prove that he has an option – or many. Nothing is certain yet – except perhaps the mandate against those knuckle pushups.
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