December 16, 2009

Bittersweet Symphyses

On the heels of SI deeming us the worst NBA franchise of the decade, we used Monday's loss in Philadelphia to kick our '09-'10 crappiness into hyperdrive. By just about any measurement you look at, we are now one of the four worst teams in basketball. That'd be as low as we've sunk in a good long while: as crappy as we were last year, we ended up as the league's seventh-worst team, closer to ninth-worst than sixth-worst, with far better underlying numbers than our current ones. The last Warriors team to rate in the league's bottom four was the ubergrim 2001-02 squad. Mookies and Suras and Hugheses -- oh, my.

But even the most soul-stricken Warriors fans don't expect us to stay quite this bad. After all, Andris Biedrins should be back soon! Our biggest current problems are our historically feeble rebounding and our inability to stop people from attacking our rim. Biedrins is, while not the first player in the league you'd choose to address those issues, somewhere in the top ten. So our circumstances will brighten soon, just as soon as Andris heals up his...

...uh... his what, now? What is his deal, exactly?

Andris has been suffering from osteitis pubis, an inflammation of the symphysis pubis. He's got swelling in the little black thingy labeled #5 in this diagram:
I'm no doctor, but he should probably get those red dots checked out, too! (rimshot; seltzer shoots from corsage)

So he's got some swelling near his tailbone. Sounds painful. Still, once it's healed, it's healed, right?

Well, probably. But we don't have much to go on here, as this is a pretty rare condition for a US pro athlete to be diagnosed with. OP (as the cool kids call it) is most commonly triggered by activities like soccer, running, or... ahem... childbirth. It's a common condition amongst Australian Football League players, to the point that the condition's Wikipedia page features a caveat that its contents "may not represent a worldwide view of the subject." But, whether because of differing physical pressures of different sports or of differences in testing culture (checking for OP is pretty awkward, as you might imagine), it doesn't seem get much mention here.

So far as I can tell, Biedrins is the first NBA player to receive this diagnosis. No NFL player has ever received this diagnosis. And it's only been diagnosed in one MLB player, Mike Lieberthal, who was afflicted with during spring training of 2003. Lieberthal recovered fully and quickly, posting an excellent April and a strong Lieberthalian season... there's no evidence of long-term effect on his play. Good news, that. Still... weird.

This has to be the most underreported story of our season so far. Montamania notwithstanding, Andris Biedrins is probably our best player, and given his position and price, almost surely our most valuable player. He's been diagnosed with a condition about which US reporters know almost nothing. We've gotten almost no details about the nature of how this happened, how his rehab is progressing or what his rehab even entails. And his expected return date keeps drifting indefinitely ahead of us: "another week or two," "another week or two."

This could be really, really bad. I'm not calling shenanigans on the part of the Warriors... I'm not saying we're being lied to. But I am guessing that the team is far more worried about the long-term implications here than they're letting on. And while we fans already have plenty to worry about, it might be worth worrying about this, too.

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