Baron Davis Says Left Knee Has Been Hurting Since 2007
The Los Angeles Clippers point guard has sat out the past two games with a cyst behind his left knee and said he expects to also miss the next four. He said he's "thinking hopefully the Detroit game on the 12th'' at home is when he will return.
"It's getting a little better,'' Davis said in an interview with FanHouse on Friday before he was about to miss his third straight game at Denver. "It's just frustrating. It's something that I really have no control over. ... It's been bothering me forever.''
Well, try nearly four years. Davis said he's continued to have problems with his left knee ever since he had arthroscopic surgery Feb. 13, 2007 while with Golden State.
"It was during that year when I came back from the injury, and then we went on the run,'' said Davis, who returned March 5 that season and helped the Warriors to a shocking 4-2 first-round upset over defending West champion Dallas. "Then in the summer it flared up a lot and then the next year we just kind of monitored it and it would swell up a couple of days. We were able to kind of treat it, and kind of get it out of the way. I ended up playing in all 82 (games in 2007-08).
"Then the first year (with the Clippers in 2008-09) it came back in L.A. toward the end of the season. And last year it came back toward the end of the season. It just during (last summer) kept coming back and back. ... Every year it just flares. It's just annoying. It's like no matter what I do, I have no control over it.''
Davis said he hasn't ruled out eventually having another surgery on the knee. But he said it hasn't gotten to the point where he's evaluating any such options and he's prepared to "gut it out'' this season before revisiting the situation next summer.
"It's just the collection of fluids that get in there and it causes like a little baseball at the back of the knee,'' Davis said of the cyst. "Imagine like a baseball. It's that hard. It restricts me from doing a lot.''
If it was just the cyst, that would one thing. But Davis said the injury has affected a ligament in his knee, something he said has surprised medical personnel.
"I just can't cut,'' Davis said. "The cyst compounds another injury that people (in medicine) don't know I could injure, that ligament on my muscle in my knee. It's like a ligament that people don't injure. So that's what's restricted me. All the swelling is coming out of the cyst but now it's compounded something else on the side. ... They're (medical personnel) saying it's not normal. ... It's one of those ligaments like, 'How did you do that?'''
But what Davis knows is he's hurting.
"Two weeks before training camp, my knee was flaring,'' Davis said. "But I just kept pushing it, pushing it (by playing). It flared right before training camp so I was out the first week. I worked my way back (by playing in the first three games of the season). ... I woke up one morning and then, just like, 'All right, I can't walk and put any pressure on it in the morning.' It's frustrating.''
Since signing a five-year, $65 million contract with the Clippers in the summer of 2008, Davis hasn't been the player he was at Golden State, where he averaged 21.8 points in 2007-08. Davis averaged 14.9 points with the Clippers in 2008-09 and 15.3 last season before putting up 10.3 in the first three games this season before being sidelined.
With Davis out, some have wondered in Los Angeles if rookie Eric Bledsoe might be a better fit at point guard. Bledsoe had 17 points and eight assists Wednesday as the Clippers (1-4) beat Oklahoma City 107-92 for their first win of the season.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has been critical of Davis' conditioning during the summer. Speaking last Monday, when Davis missed his first game of the season, Del Negro said Davis "knows he was behind in his conditioning'' and that "causes a lot of problems for everybody; for Baron, for the team, for everyone involved.''
Davis, 31, said last Monday he needs to "start training differently and earlier'' than when he usually starts to get into shape in August. But he disagreed on Friday that he's in bad shape, saying it's simply his knee that is the problem.
"I know I take a lot of criticism because of my conditioning,'' Davis said. "Because, they say, my lack thereof. ... I know who I am as a person and I know what this game means to me. It's just frustrating that I can't do the things sometimes (needed). I can't get over the hump and it's been the case since two weeks before training camp. My knee started flaring. ... When it flares up, there's nothing I can do about that. Right now, I'm in great shape (conditioning wise).
"I'm not here to defend myself. I just want to get on the court and just let my actions, the way that I play (take care of it). That's all I care about is just getting out on the court and playing at the level that I'm capable of playing at. I don't really worry what people say about me.''
When Davis does return, he realizes he might have to play this season in pain.
"I want to push through this year and just do all you can for this team,'' Davis said. "(If playing in pain is) what I wind up having to do, I'll just gut it out and toughen it out. ... If I'm 75 percent, I'm playing. If I can run, if I can get out of bed, I can play. It just becomes frustrating when you can't be at your full capacity.''
But it's nothing new that Davis is hurting. He says he has a knee problem that just won't go away.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson