The name James Andrews should sounds familiar to sports fans: Andrews is the sports world’s most popular orthopedic surgeon, having cut and healed some of America’s most notable athletes. That list spans from Michael Jordan to Jack Nicklaus to Robert Griffin III, and, as of Wednesday, to the chagrin of Chicagoans, it could include Jimmy Butler.
The Chicago Bulls announced Wednesday that their young star guard would miss Thursday’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs to head down to Alabama and have his left knee inspected by the 73-year-old expert. A visit with Andrews, though normally an excellent occurrence for those with ligaments in need of fixing, is a bad signal for those hoping Butler would be able to bounce back quickly from a knee injury that has plagued him this season.
Butler’s appearance in Saturday’s clash against the Houston Rockets marked the first time since Feb. 5 that the 26-year old had been able to take the floor after suffering a left knee sprain in a loss against the Denver Nuggets. However, he would sit out Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks after the knee had some swelling. Although the swelling eventually subsided, the pain in the back of the knee lingered, which led to his consultation with Andrews. Per ESPN:
“Jimmy, he felt pretty good this morning,” coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Wednesday. “Came in [Tuesday] night, got a workout, participated this morning. He’s going to go down and see Dr. Andrews down in Alabama today just to get a second opinion on the knee. [Thursday] he won’t play, but we’ll hopefully get some news tomorrow and then confer with everybody and put a plan together. … I think everybody agrees that it’s a good idea to go down there and get an opinion from one of the top doctors in the world.”
Hoiberg’s comments come just a day after he revealed how intensive the care surrounding Butler had been leading up to his return and throughout Saturday’s contest. The first-year NBA coach faced some scrutiny for playing the forward 34 minutes in his first game back. According to CBSChicago, the Bulls coach said then that Butler, “felt really good after [Saturday’s] game,” and that, “it’s not too unexpected to have a little bit of soreness after that.”
As it turns out, the soreness persisted, enough to the point that Butler and the Bulls felt it was best for him to be examined by the same doctor that has played a major role in the multiple rehabilitations and recoveries undertaken by fellow Chicago Bull standout, Derrick Rose.
With Andrews, Butler will likely have another MRI, said Hoiberg — that will mark his third MRI of the month.
While he will undoubtedly be getting the best possible care, Chicago fans and the entire Bulls organization are both likely on pins and needles regarding the consultation. Although no news has come out of Alabama, the initiation of a meeting at all likely means that both Butler and the Bulls fear that there is structural damage in his left knee that might require surgery.
As detailed by The Post, visits to Andrews are noted for the doctor’s honesty, the high-profile status of the clients and the grisly ligament damage suffered by said clients. Thus, the spotlight on Butler and Chicago throughout the past week will only intensify as everyone waits to hear about the results of the visit.
The Bulls (32-30) are currently clinging to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, though both the Detroit Pistons (32-31) and Washington Wizards (30-33) are right on their heels. As Butler is having another outstanding campaign with averages of 22.4 points, 4.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game, losing him for another extended period of time would be crippling to this Chicago squad.