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Surgery on Brook Lopez’s foot included procedure meant to save his career

Jan 5, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

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When Brook Lopez was lost for the season with a fractured foot injury, there was no doubt that surgery would be required before the long rehabilitation process would begin.

But in addition to the repair, a second procedure was done in hopes that Lopez can have a long NBA career and the repeated injuries would become a thing of the past.

“With this procedure, we both fixed the broken bone (fifth metatarsal) in Brook’s right foot and repositioned another bone, so that his sole of his foot will bear weight more evenly than before,” said Dr. Riley Williams III, via the team’s official release. “The repositioning portion of the surgery lessens the stress on the fractured bone, and decreases the likelihood of re-injury in the future.”

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com has more on the matter, and compared Lopez’s situation to that of two other big men similarly bothered by multiple injuries — Yao Ming, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

The surgeries that Yao, Ilgauskas and Lopez have all had were slightly different. A specialist could probably explain in great detail the facets of the procedures and differences in the bones and the alignment of the heel and ankle, etc. But they also were all the same; three big men whose feet couldn’t support their profession having their bones moved around to give them a chance. In Ilgauskas and Yao’s case, it was a last chance.

The Nets, who have $60 million invested in Lopez, are not saying that. They are defensive and cautious, and they should be.

“He had surgery. It was successful. And then he’ll recover and be back playing,” Nets general manager Billy King said. “We can sit here and say, ‘last-ditch effort’ or whatever, he had surgery. They said it’s gonna be a successful recovery, so I mean, we can’t sit here today on Jan. 4 and say what’s gonna happen when he starts playing again. We can’t speculate on that, and I’m not gonna do that.”

Lopez will be back next season, likely playing at or near the All-Star level he was at before the injury took place. If the additional medical procedure turns out to be a success, we won’t know it until several injury-free years have passed.

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