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Archive for Sunday, October 5, 2003

Collison won’t play this season

Ex-Jayhawk to sit out rookie year with Sonics to rehab shoulders

October 5, 2003

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Nick Collison, who never missed a game in his four-year Kansas University men's basketball career, will miss all 82 games his rookie season in the NBA.

Collison, the Seattle SuperSonics' top pick in the 2003 draft, needs surgery on both shoulders and will not return to competitive basketball until next summer.

"It's very disappointing," Collison said Saturday in Seattle. "I've wanted to play in the league since I was 8 or 9. I thought I was there, and now I can't play this season.

"I realize there are worse situations you can be in, but I'm definitely disappointed. It will be tough because in talking with Walt (Rock, Sonics video coordinator) last night, we were talking about how we're almost addicted to the game. To have to sit for a year will be very tough. I've never had to sit out very long."

Collison suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder in practice Sunday. An MRI showed similar weakness in his right shoulder. The Sonics didn't want to risk a similar injury in that shoulder in the future.

Dr. Russell Warren, who performed surgery on KU junior Wayne Simien's shoulder in April and also on NBA All-Star Chris Webber's shoulder, will operate on Collison at the Hospital For Special Surgery in New York.

First, Collison will have surgery on the left shoulder, which he said popped "out and back in place" at practice Sunday as he fought for a rebound. The shoulder popped out again when Collison simply reached for a loose ball at a second practice Sunday.

He had no problems Monday, but Tuesday the shoulder popped out again as he reached for a loose ball. He was examined by Seattle team surgeon Richard Zorn, Seattle shoulder specialist Richard Kirby and Warren, the New York Giants' team doctor.

"What's happened is that the tissues in the front of his shoulder have been stripped from the bony attachment, and that's the primary problem," Zorn said.

"There's also some injury to the bone. What you do is re-attach the tissues in the front, forming a 'sling', if you will, for the (bone) so it doesn't pop out. Right now there's a laxity, a tendency for it to go out. If it goes too far, it goes beyond the cup portion of the joint and dislocates. That's what happened last week."

Of the right shoulder, Zorn said: "It (MRI) shows soft-tissue changes like we see in the left, although it doesn't have the same amount of instability that it has on the left."

Sonics general manager Rick Sund noted: "There are some similar, potential problems to his right shoulder, but to a lesser extent. In this process of surgery, we are also going to do the right shoulder as well."

Collison suffered a strained left shoulder in a summer pick-up game at KU in June of 2002 and he had an MRI performed at that time, which showed no structural damage in the shoulder.

"My junior year, before my senior season, there was just slippage," Collison said. "I had been through some slippage and had the MRI to make sure nothing was wrong. There was really nothing wrong -- just some (looseness) in the joint, but they said that happens to people.

"And every doctor in the (NBA) pre-draft camp we went through, the (five) doctors pushed and pulled and nothing was wrong. I didn't think there was anything wrong, and I don't think there was anything wrong."

Collison had some left shoulder pain at times at KU last season, but after a few minutes stretching his arm on the bench, the pain would go away. Shoulder pain never caused him to miss a practice.

He missed one KU practice in four years -- because of a tailbone injury.

Collison often told the Journal-World he had "loose shoulders," his right shoulder also slipping a time or two.

The Sonics said they were satisfied they did not draft "damaged goods."

"It is a fair question is because some people have asked it, and I told this to Nick this morning, 'If the injury had occurred in the pre-draft workout in Seattle, we still would have drafted him at 12," Sund said. "It didn't make any difference. In terms of looking at the prognosis, it looks like he's going to have a full recovery. This will lessen and minimize the chance of subluxation in the future."

Collison should be back next season.

Collison's range of motion will be affected, but that shouldn't affect him on the court. It hasn't affected Webber, and Simien has looked good in preseason workouts.

"It's medicine. You can never guarantee anything 100 percent, but this type of shoulder surgery is usually successful. It's got a high success rate. There is a possibility of re-occurrence, but it's pretty minimal," Zorn said.

Of Collison, Sonics coach Nate McMillan said: "An injury such as this to a young player that we have high hopes for, that will miss the season, is very disappointing. I'm disappointed since I don't have that opportunity this season and also in the sense that he's a good guy and was ready to come in and play."

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Jayhawks in NBA camps: Here's a list of KU's players who reported to NBA preseason camps this week: Kirk Hinrich, Chicago; Drew Gooden, Orlando; Raef LaFrentz, Dallas; Greg Ostertag, Utah; Paul Pierce, Boston; Scot Pollard, Indiana; Jacque Vaughn, Atlanta; Eric Chenowith, Los Angeles Lakers; and Ashante Johnson, Sacramento Kings.

Hinrich will be battling for a starting spot with point guard Jay Williams out for the season because of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

-- Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

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