The Cavaliers and their fans think they were sweating the past two days as LeBron camped out at the hospital? At least the Cavs aren't in the predicament of the Suns.
Amare Stoudemire was everything Darius Miles never was: a wiry forward with breathtaking athleticism who could run faster and jump higher than any two of his high-school teammates combined.
Miles came to the NBA out of high school with all the hops and none of the skill, and has not really matured into much more. Stoudemire worked diligently at his game, and by last year was likely only surpassed by Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Shaq in the pantheon of NBA big men.
He avearged nearly 30 points a game in the playoffs. He averaged 37 points a game in the Suns' conference finals loss to the Spurs. He had the mid-range jumper to play soft, and the size and jackrabbit legs to play tough. He was a blossoming superstar.
Now, the future of the Suns as a contender, and the future of Stoudemire's career, is in doubt. Stoudemire had exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his knee over the summer to correct what was thought to be a simple cartilage tear. What doctors found was a severe cartilage defect that required microfracture surgery.
Microfracture surgery is a procedure where doctors try to promote the growth of scar tissue in a joint to act as faux-cartilage in places where the cartilage has worn away or become useless.
The procedure involves drilling notches in the end of the bones at the joint in question. The notches, or microfractures, promote the growth of scar tissue.
Microfracture surgery is still a relatively new procedure, and far from perfected. At worst, it can complicate an injury. At best it is far from a sure bet, as NBA players like Allan Houston and Chris Webber can attest. Five years ago, Houston and Webber were among the game's elite players. Since then, they have needed microfracture surgery, and it has done nothing to slow their decline into has-been status.
But at least Houston and Webber had gotten some prime years out of their bodies before they started to break down. Stoudemire, the 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year, was just getting started.