Iowa State basketball player George Niang recently suffered a fracture to his fifth metatarsal.Fans of Ohio sports may remember that back in the 70s and 80s 2 key players in both Ohio State football and Cavs basketball had careers derailed by this same injury.
Today I spent some time talking to Ray Horner from WAKR about this topic.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
Joe — another year– another big injury in the March Madness basketball championships.
DR. CONGENI: You know injuries and sports medicine always play a role in any big sporting event. The NCAA got off to a great start last week.
Wasn’t it great, Ray?
HORNER: It was. Yes.
DR. CONGENI: A lot of great games that came down to the end (finishes). The way it’s set up now — all of the ‘one and dones’ and then the mid majors – there are some mid majors that have a chance.
Probably the mid major that maybe had the best chance to go to the Final Four and beyond was Iowa State. (But) they got bit by the injury bug big time.
One of their best players, a gentleman by the name of George Niang (suffered an injury). George is one of their big men and they don’t have a lot of big men and without him they probably aren’t going to go very far.
Although they’re still alive so we can keep an eye on them.
The kind of injury he had is a foot injury. You know I really enjoy the history of sports medicine. I want to talk a little about how it relates to northeast Ohio specifically.
This injury that Niang had is to the fifth metatarsal on the outside part of the foot. Most stress fractures in the foot are ones that are not a big deal (fractures or stress fractures) and they heal in 4 to 6 weeks. But this one in the fifth metatarsal doesn’t heal very well.
There’s one called a Jones fracture. The Jones fracture was named after Sir Robert Jones who named it in 1902 so it goes way back.
We need to know the difference between the bump on the outside of the foot (the base of the fifth metatarsal — no big deal fracture). But if it’s an inch further down into that metatarsal, it’s one that needs surgery. Athletes just don’t heal with it.
Unfortunately in Cleveland sports history we’ve had to learn and live through that. (There are) 2 famous Ohio or Cleveland sport history (examples).
In 1975-76 the Miracle of Richfield was derailed by this. Between the series where the Cavs beat the Washington Bullets and were on their way to the NBA championship (before they played the Boston Celtics) — Jim Chones injured this bone.
He had to have surgery and the Cavs valiantly played the Celtics but lost. That was the end of the Miracle of Richfield, so that goes back a real long way for real oldsters.
And then more moderate old people out there might remember in the mid 80s there was a wonderful running back at Ohio State by the name of Keith Byars. He was the favorite to win the Heisman trophy in 1985.
In 1985, early in the season, he got a Jones fracture. He actually tried to return to play and re-injured it, and then he was never the same in his pro career. He didn’t get the Heisman. Ohio State didn’t win the national championship. Byars might never have reached his full potential after this Jones fracture.
After that most people with Jones fractures (if you get one) they fix that fifth metatarsal and you can’t play on it.
Unfortunately for a mid major like Iowa State I think their chances are probably derailed with the injury to George Niang.
HORNER: Well, Joe, the way I run they often call it the Horner fracture because I run so slow there must be something wrong with my feet.
DR. CONGENI: We have to get to the bottom of what’s going on with Ray Horner and that’s a Horner fracture. I like it, that’s not bad.
HORNER: Well listen Joe, good stuff as always. Thanks for the education. We’ll catch up with you next week.
DR. CONGENI: Alright Ray. Have a great week.
HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni from the Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital.