Portland Trail Blazers trainer Jay Jensen walked the media through the circumstances leading up to the decision to have center Greg Oden undergo microfracture knee surgery on his left knee this Friday. Here's a transcript of his comments, delivered Wednesday night at the Rose Garden media room.
Here's a transcript of his statement, which he delivered while choking back emotion at times. The last two questions were asked and answered following the general group statement.
"Two weeks ago today, Greg was seen by Dr. Roberts and he had a normal exam. He had no fluid in his knee at all. He had a normal exam. We were solely concentrated on continuing to get him stronger and increasing his confidence, his ability to play on the court. He was experiencing some discomfort based on the hardware that was in his patella, so it was suggested that we get a second opinion down in Los Angeles.
"We went to L.A. to play the Lakers on Sunday, and Greg had had a workout that was broadcast on TV because our doctor watched him work out before the game on TV. He had a workout, a strong workout, a strenuous workout and when he came off the court there was no talk that he was struggling or that he was having difficulty with his knee. On Monday, I first heard about the discomfort in his knee at Coach Luke's funeral. He mentioned to me that his knee was sore and that he had some swelling or effusion. We looked at it, it wasn't a large amount. The following day, Tuesday, we had our next game. I saw him at shootaround and he had a significant effusion on his knee, one that warranted him to see Dr. Roberts that night at the game.
"Dr. Roberts looked at him, didn't know the exact reason, but he suggested that he drain the knee, and he drained a moderate amount of fluid from Greg's knee at that time. Wednesday we had already planned this trip to Los Angeles to get a second opinion, so Greg and I and Rich saw Dr. ElAttrache down there. At that time he didn't have very much of an effusion on his knee because it had just been drained of a moderate amount. So while his knee wasn't normal it had a small amount of fluid on there. Dr. ElAttrache attributed that to increased activity and to have swelling on his knee was not unusual. If he didn't have swelling he would think that was unusual. I had seen Greg in the lobby of the hotel the following day. I looked at his knee and it was significantly increased from when he was seen by Dr. ElAttrache. It was at that time that I mentioned it to Dr. Roberts and he agreed that it was time to get an MRI on Greg's knee.
"At that time we were not looking for a chondural defect in Greg's knee. We were thinking maybe there was something on the undersurface of his patella maybe, causing some irritation due to increased activity. So the MRI was not a real good tool to see the patella based on the hardware that was in Greg's knee. Since he had a large amount of swelling it was determined we were going to do that anyway. Greg preceded us to Portland, we continued with our business in Los Angeles with another player and when we arrived back in Portland on Saturday, we did the MRI on Greg and we went into the room where Dr. Roberts and me and Greg were, just the three of us by ourselves.
"Dr. Roberts pulled up the picture of Greg's knee on the screen and Greg didn't know what he was looking at. But Dr. Roberts did and I knew what to look for too, and there was the defect in his articular surface of his left knee. We sat there and it was like we got kicked in the stomach. We all felt like we had just been told that somebody close to us had died. It felt that way. We didn't know what to say. We were shocked.
"Greg's family and people wanted to make sure this was the right diagnosis and that we were not through with our evaluation or process with Greg. It was then we decided where to send these films and whom to receive a second opinion from. We just received that news very recently. That's where we stand now.
What exactly is the kind of damage?
"It's called articular cartilage. It's different from meniscus cartilage. It's on the end of the bone. If you eat a chicken bone, the white part on the end of the bone, that's the articular cartilage. For lack of a better term, it's like hitting a nine iron and taking a divot out of the grass, it's a hole in that part of the cartilage. Or if you peel off a little section of orange, that's what the articular cartilage is. That would be the best kind of analogy I can give you."
Did an incident cause this?
"I think I would say that I don't think anybody knows for sure because it's a process that goes on, and I'm not a doctor but I listened to what Dr. Roberts tells me and the way that things progressed, I think that there was certainly something in his workout in L.A. that triggered this. I don't know what it was specifically. I know Greg has been progressed in a progressively loading fashion of his joint. This was not his patella, this was his articular surface and it's in a totally different area where his patella fracture was. But to say honestly I don't think anybody can tell you when it happened."
Is this similar to the microfracture knee surgery he underwent in 2007 on his right knee?
"It's very similar. It's the same procedure. It's the same part of the bone that was damaged in his right knee. Even to the point where his right knee, we didn't know how that happened either when that happened. It was an insidious kind of onset with the swelling. He didn't know how he did it. He woke up one day and there was a moderate amount of effusion of swelling on his knee. We do know though at some point it happened from after the draft to when we found out about it, and the reason we know about that is that we did a series of two MRIs on both of his knees before the draft and there was nothing. To quote somebody, they were ‘pristine' MRIs for his knees. Both instances they were found after a normal MRI was done."
Can you describe the workout in Los Angeles that led up to this?
"I was getting guys ready for the game so I wasn't out there watching him. It was a typical workout where, before the game, they go out, Joel and Greg, go out and do particular routine of low post moves, dunks, setting screens, rebounding drills, it was one that was hard. I remember Dr. Roberts calling me, because it was on the air on our broadcast, telling me that he looked really good, explosive. He thought his workout was really good. Greg didn't really complain about it, anything that was unusual."
Correct me if I'm wrong but he was on the bench watching the Lakers game like normal?
"It was nothing unusual that happened after his workout that he mentioned to me. He didn't mention anything to me until we were here in Portland for Luke's funeral on Monday."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter