By Ben Golliver
There are freak injuries, and then there are true head-slappers. This one qualifies in that stronger, second category.
On Thursday, Love issued a statement through the team's public relations staff, explaining that he had broken multiple bones in his hand by doing "knuckle pushups."
"Yesterday, I had a post-practice commitment and decided to work out at home with my personal trainer. While doing various pushups, including knuckle pushups, which are part of my regular workout routine, I hurt my hand. I immediately knew something was wrong and called head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam. Although I'm disappointed, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible. We have added a lot of depth to our roster this season, and I have complete confidence in my teammates and coaching staff.. I'm looking forward to supporting our team and helping out any way I can until I get back on the court."
Love addressed his supporters in a brief message on his Twitter account: "[I] would like to thank all of you who reached out to me in the last 24 hours. This is a minor setback and I will be back stronger."
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman didn't sound particularly thrilled by Love's injury-causing workout routine, according to the Star-Tribune.
“I think that should be taken out of the repertoire for sure,” he said. “In fact, all pushups. Anything to do with the hand.”
Some good news did emerge in the aftermath of one of the weirder ways for an All-Star to take himself out of action. The Pioneer Press reported Thursday that Love's injury will not require surgery, even though he fractured the third and fourth metacarpal bones in his right (shooting) hand. Yahoo Sports also reported Thursday that Love's recovery timeline could wind up being 5-to-6 weeks, shorter than was initially expected.
If Love misses exactly six weeks, this injury would cost him the rest of the preseason plus the Timberwolves’ first 14 regular season games. If he is sidelined the full two months, he would miss 22 regular season games, more than a quarter of Minnesota’s schedule. If here were able to return in five weeks, though, Love would only miss Minnesota's first 10 regular-season games.
Adelman will be forced to make due with two combo forwards, Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham, and Andrei Kirilenko, who was expected to see more time at small forward, during Love's absence. Love, 24, is a two-time All-Star who was named to the All-NBA Second Team last season and finished sixth in the 2012 MVP voting. He averaged a career-high 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game last season. He also missed time during the 2009-10 season due to a broken bone in his left hand. He then missed time in 2010-11 with a groin injury and in 2011-12 with a concussion. All told, he’s missed 41 games combined over the last three seasons. The Timberwolves signed Love to a 4-year contract extension worth $60 million in December 2011 which carries him through the 2015-16 season. Love can exercise a player option during the summer of 2015.