Just before the second round of play-offs, the Cavs lose Kevin Love to a shoulder injury. It’s one of the worst things that could’ve happened to the Cavs and Cleveland fans.
In a heated battle for the rebound, Love’s shoulder was dislocated. And when it pops out of the socket and doesn’t return, it’s a sure sign of either cartilage or ligament damage. His problem is going to be strength. Love won’t have any in that arm for several weeks.
Yesterday, I spoke with 1590 WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this injury and whether he can return for the Eastern Conference play-offs.
Update: During a press conference after this WAKR interview was recorded, CAVs General Manager David Griffin announced Kevin Love will not return to the play-offs this season due to his shoulder injury.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
HORNER: 1590 WAKR News Talk Sports, 14 minutes in front of 9. It is 8:46 a.m. and we’ve talked a lot this morning about the injury to Kevin Love, dislocated shoulder. Reports [are] saying 2 to 3 weeks.
Hey, I’m gonna get it from this guy right here, Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, [who] joins us Wednesdays at 8:50 a.m. Joe, I know you don’t see X-rays and all that type of thing, but when you see dislocation, can you be back in 3 weeks?
DR. CONGENI: No. I mean for some things, Ray, it’s really important to see X-rays and MRIs and all that. In this case, seeing him run off the court with an empty socket they call it, even the untrained eye — I’ve been at a few water coolers already this morning — people could see as he ran off the court … there was a divot where the round part of your shoulder ought to be and that’s called an empty socket.
Everyone that saw that knew his shoulder was out, so this one is not very hard to make a diagnosis. There are a lot of water cooler doctors making diagnoses on this one.
Uh, so this is a bad one to have. There’s no doubt about it. As we’ve talked about before, the way the shoulder is made the upper arm bone, the humerus, has a rounded end to it like a ball and it sits on a socket that’s pretty small, like a golf tee.
And, when it pops off and it’s out like that, yes, he felt great when he popped it back in and … they say, “Geez, I feel really okay again,” but for sporting activity it’s really a problem. And, this is, uh, one of the worst things that could’ve happened yesterday for the Cavs.
HORNER: Okay, when you say sporting activity, he gets it back in, are you saying that he doesn’t have much reach with this arm and shoulder area now?
DR. CONGENI: No. It’s not so much necessarily restricting his reach, Ray, it’s more so that he won’t have any strength when he reaches in a certain direction.
DR. CONGENI: So he’s in a sling. He feels good for the first day or 2. This is very common in our office and high-school football and basketball players get these all the time, wrestlers too. So it’s a very, very common thing. He just won’t have much strength at all.
The MRI I’m not meant to say that it isn’t important today. Everybody’s talking about how important it is. They’ll look for what they call tissue damage. Something had to be damaged for the ball to pop off of the golf tee or to slip off of the golf tee and stay out like that.
Um, the 3 structures that they look at first of all is just the X-ray. Sometimes there’s a bone chip with it and if that’s the case that would need to be fixed.
Secondly, though, what you’re more suspicious of is the ligaments that hold the ball on the golf tee get stretched or torn. And thirdly, there’s a cartilage pad that acts as a suction cup keeping the ball on the golf tee. It’s called the labrum, glenoid labrum, and it can be torn.
So, they’re really looking on the MRI for cartilage or ligament damage and that makes it worse.
One of the big questions … you’d ask him is have you ever had this before? And in looking up last night in his history I saw that they never mentioned that he’s had much shoulder problem. It’s actually a better thing if they’ve had it before and if it is a first time, it’s usually more tissue damage.
HORNER: Joe, I know without seeing X-rays it’s tough. Best case/worst case scenario?
DR. CONGENI: Yeah, you know, you can go out there and … what I heard coming in and last night even is a lot of people talking about well there are these harnesses you wear. There are these compression shirts, like when Shumpert first came back at the end of a month off.
Remember, Shump had been off for a month? So, he got a chance for a lot of those tissues to heal in a month. The fact is if they don’t heal in a month and [he’s] just wearing a harness, first of all it’s gonna restrict how much he can use it and secondly, the harness can’t do all the work.
And so, you go up for a rugged rebound in the NBA where you need both arms, it is his off arm, it’s very hard to play if you don’t have strength. So the key will be strength.
They’ll be working hard to try to get that strength back, but if there’s significant stretch and tear to the ligaments to allow it to pop out of place it’s gonna take a little while for the strength of those ligaments to come back. And, that’s really the hard part about waiting for these injuries to heal.
HORNER: So, it sounds like for sure not the next series and maybe who knows what lies ahead for that?
DR. CONGENI: Well, Ray, I mean, he may go out there. I heard him say a couple times last night, “I feel good right now. I’m gonna try to go out there with a harness.”
You also saw with some players lately that funny-looking tape that’s called Kinesio Tape. They put that around the shoulder in different positions to give you some support, but how much support can you have when you’re battling for a rebound with, uh, (Joakim) Noah or with, uh, Pau Gasol or somebody and you’re really trying to rip that ball out of their hands? You need as much strength as you can get.
So, he may try to give it a go with a harness of some sort, uh, sooner than that, but the strength coming back it’s gonna be several weeks. Very much like what Iman Shumpert went through before he came to the Cavs.
HORNER: Great stuff, Joe. I knew you’d have some good insight with me. You know, it was difficult to watch that happen yesterday. All year long we’re saying, okay we gotta keep Kyrie and Kevin Love healthy and here we go opening round of the play-offs and we lose K Love, so. …
DR. CONGENI: Yeah, the timing couldn’t be worse. If it had been late in the season then you shut down and give it some time to strengthen … but right before the series, and the Bulls are a good team. We’re gonna have to play differently … so it’s really, really a hard time, and for Cleveland fans again, it’s a hard thing for us to swallow.
HORNER: I agree. Thank you, Joe, for making time for us.
DR. CONGENI: Thanks, Ray. We’ll talk to you later in the week.
HORNER: You got it. Dr. Joe Congeni, Sports Medicine Center at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on April 27, 2015