Slate's Explainer column took on a question today about how Spurs forward DeJuan Blair can play without any anterior cruciate ligaments.
According to the article, Blair's hamstring muscles, quadriceps and soft tissues in his knee pick up the slack of absorbing the shock to his knees when he lands from a jump.
During his high-school surgeries, Blair's doctors did not purposefully remove his ACLs—the going theory is that they tried to repair some partial damage to the ligaments and failed. Then, over time, Blair's ACLs deteriorated to the point of disappearance. Since this was a gradual change, his muscles and other ligaments could have adapted slowly to the added strain. Without such an adjustment period—if his doctors had simply cut out the ligaments, for example—it's likely he would have injured himself on the court quite rapidly. Blair is now thought to face a higher risk of damaging his knees (especially his meniscus) than athletes with repaired ACLs—and he may end up with osteoarthritis.
We are working on getting in contact with Slate's Juliet Lapidos and Dr. Walter Lowe, who contributed to the article, for an upcoming episode of the Spurscast. Hopefully they'll be able to explain this in-depth and possibly give us an idea of Blair's career longevity.
Read the full article on Slate.