Understanding Posterior Tibialis Tendon Dislocation: Will Porzingis Be Able to Play?

The unexpected injury may sideline one of the team's key players for Game 3, dealing a significant blow, especially considering his impressive comeback in Game 1 of the finals after missing 10 games due to a previous injury.
Anna Ciao
By: Anna Ciao

Here are five things to know about 7-foot-3 Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis.

A new injury threatens Boston Celtics Center Kristaps Porzingis' chances of participating in Game 3 of the NBA Finals and potentially beyond against the Dallas Mavericks.

Described by the team as "a torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon," this injury presents a rare challenge, and the treatment plan is not straightforward.

Dr. Jessica Flynn, a sports medicine doctor with Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, explained, "Unfortunately, Kristaps Porzingis has a tibialis posterior tendon dislocation, and that happens when the little band of tissue that holds it in the right place, which is called the retinaculum, tears. So the tendon is no longer in the little place where it’s supposed to sit."

Flynn further elaborated that this injury affects the bump on the inner part of the ankle, known as the medial malleolus. This thick band-like structure helps tether the ankle in place to the calf. When a tendon is dislocated, it can impair a person's ability to flex the area, go up on the toes, and jump – crucial movements for a basketball player.

"The tibialis posterior tendon is really important for spring and the ability to push off, and if that’s limited in this leg and he’s still dealing with the soleus injury in the other leg, which we saw, he’s still clearly dealing with, he can’t use one of the legs to help the other one," Flynn remarked. "I just think it’s going to be difficult for him to go out there and be effective, but I’m not willing to say it’s impossible."

Dr. John Ponti of Southcoast Health Orthopedics echoed similar sentiments when speaking with NBC Sports Boston. "It’s certainly going to be a challenge for the medical team and for Porzingis to be able to return back tomorrow night," Ponti said. "It certainly depends on his level of pain and how much function he has been able to maintain despite his injury. If the pain is tolerable and he can show that he can jump and he can run and it’s not disrupting his ability to perform those tasks, there is a chance that he could play."

According to Flynn, this type of injury typically necessitates surgery and a comprehensive rehabilitation program for a complete recovery. This means that even if Porzingis demonstrates effectiveness on the court, he and the team must weigh the potential risk to his future career.

Moreover, the injury's rarity complicates matters for the medical staff.

"It’s an incredibly rare injury. In fact, you hear reports that the team saying well after talking to multiple orthopedic surgeons. They’re not doing that because the Celtics staff isn’t excellent – they’re outstanding - it’s because his is such a rare injury not just in the world but obviously in the NBA," Flynn explained.

Despite its uncommon nature, Porzingis isn't the first Boston sports figure to experience such an injury. Flynn pointed out that Curt Schilling's notorious "bloody sock" injury was very similar, albeit on the other side of the ankle. However, in Schilling's case as a baseball player, the immediate treatment primarily focused on pain management, with less concern for his ability to play his sport.

"This is much worse in a basketball player in this situation," Flynn emphasized.

The Celtics have stated that the decision regarding Porzingis' participation will be evaluated on a day-by-day basis. Nonetheless, he has been one of the team's standout performers in the 2024 NBA Finals.

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Anna Ciao
Written by: Anna Ciao
Anna Ciao is a sports content contributor at Betimate. Born and raised in a rural village in China, I have had a passion for football and various sports such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, from a young age. Along with diligent studies, I achieved an IELTS score of 8.0 in the English language, and I have become a content contributor specializing in sports, particularly football, as I am today. I hope that my articles are helpful to readers.

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