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Pistons should protect Stuckey at all costs

Mar 10, 2010, 9:12 PM EDT

stuckey.jpgUPDATE 9:12 pm: Stuckey has been cleared to practice by team doctors. However, no date has been set yet for when he will return to game action

11:54 am: Nobody quite knows what’s ailing Rodney Stuckey physically, and that’s a frightening thing. Professional basketball players, like professional athletes of any kind, put their bodies through a ton of physical stress. It’s enough to injure just about every part of the human body, and while it’s not exactly as contact-dependent as say, football, there’s no question that athletes need to be aware and in tune with their bodies at all times or they could be seriously hurt.

There are some things you just don’t risk. It’s not like Stuckey has a sprained ankle or even a fracture patella; it’s completely unknown what caused Stuck to collapse on the Pistons bench last week, which should put him in the category of “guys you do not put on the court for any reason.”

Chris Iott of MLive thinks differently:

We all agree that Stuckey the person is more important than
Stuckey the basketball player. That the first priority is his health
off the court and not his production on it. That Stuckey and the
Pistons should take every precaution and run every conceivable test
two, three, four, however many times they want to.

But, once every
test and precaution is taken, no one should blame Stuckey for returning
to the court. Sitting out the final 19 games of the current season
serves little purpose.

I’m following along through the first few sentences, but somewhere in that paragraph break I seem to be getting a bit lost. Why are we encouraging Stuckey to hit the court when his health could be seriously at risk? And why are advocating that he rush back to the court to play for the 22-41 Pistons? The only thing that “serves little purpose” is Stuckey logging any floor time whatsoever while his health status is still up in the air.

There is absolutely no need for hurry. If Stuck returns in two weeks’ time with a clean bill of health, that’s absolutely super. But Detroit has little to gain by suiting him up, and I don’t know how they even could do so in good conscience.

Where a lot of the discourse is missing the point is that they follow this same “If nothing is wrong with Stuckey…” chain of thought that drives Iott’s piece. Something is wrong. The guy collapsed during a game, a fact which is just plain irresponsible to ignore, especially after invoking the name of Reggie Lewis.

So you test and you test and you test, and at some point, it may be okay for Rodney to play again. But that’s not a call that anyone makes — not John Kuester, not the Pistons’ medical staff, and not Stuckey himself — until every relevant test is given and then some. There are some things you don’t mess with, no matter what’s at stake. And when all that’s at stake is a season ticket holder or two and a few less ping pong balls? Basketball just isn’t that important.

  1. Chase Altemara - Mar 11, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Chris Lott is right about one thing. Stuckey the person IS more important than Stuckey the basketball player. Especially when the team he plays for would have to go on a near miraculous run to end the season in order to make the playoffs, where they would inevitably be pounded by Cleveland or Orlando anyway.
    Stuckey needs to stay off the court indefinitely and maybe forever. I’m not a cardiologist nor am I a health care professional, but I am an athletic training student at UNLV. The day before this game I attended a symposium on sudden cardiac death, and when I watched the game I got chills when I saw Stuckey go down. He looked exactly like other athletes who died from this phenomenon, and the fact that his tests didn’t show anything wrong really doesn’t mean to much. The science and research behind this subject is very new and the answers are yet to be found. In 71% of the cases of SDC the athlete has had an enlarged heart, but whats more important is that 29% had seemingly normal hearts. If Stuckey values his life, and the NBA wants to show the public that it learned from Reggie Lewis’s accident, then Stuckey should sit out the rest of the season for further evaluation.

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