Philadelphia 76ers forward Danny Green suffered a cruciate ligament rupture, LCL, in the season-ending loss to the Miami Heat

Philadelphia 76ers forward Danny Green suffered a cruciate ligament rupture, LCL, in the season-ending loss to the Miami Heat

CAMDEN, NJ — The Philadelphia 76ers announced that forward Danny Green tore an anterior cruciate ligament and lateral cruciate ligament in his left knee Thursday night in Philadelphia’s season-ending loss in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Miami Heat.

Green was injured when 76ers superstar Joel Embiid collided with him in the first quarter of Game 6, falling into Green’s left leg after an attempted shot and sending the 13-year-old forward to the ground. Green initially said he was unaware of the severity of the injury until he tried to leave the court after spending some time on the court in pain and his knee buckled as he got up.

“I was trying to get in there, saw him drive to the basket and try to get inside to either get a rebound or not double the other guy,” Green said during his exit interview on early Friday afternoon before he received the results of his MRI this morning. “Joel got to the rim, I saw him put it on … I didn’t know if it went in or not, but all I remember is falling. I tried to move but I couldn’t get out fast enough It just happened so fast but I saw it happen and I tried to pull my leg out but it got caught under me and he rolled in.

“I knew when it happened, I felt it. I knew I couldn’t return to the game, but I didn’t realize how serious it was until I tried to strain it and it buckled. Then it became clear to me that it will probably take a while.

“I heard some noises that weren’t reassuring.”

Green had said earlier in his interview that he was optimistic and hopeful that the injury “wouldn’t be as bad as it looked” and that he could potentially avoid knee surgery and be back in time for the start of next season. However, that will no longer be the case as he will almost certainly need surgery which would sideline him for at least the vast majority of the 2022-23 season.

Green, who turns 35 next month, said it was the first time in his career that he had suffered any type of knee injury and had never had surgery before.

“Kind of shit,” he said. “Year 13, as you get older, it becomes difficult to deal with…it’s not the funniest thing to think about as you head into summer. I think the worst part was just knowing that I couldn’t help the team and watching things sort of unravel, how it was when I wasn’t on the ground… the energy shifted.

76ers coach Doc Rivers and Green’s teammates praised him for his decision to come on the bench and cheer for the team in the second half of the game. However, Green said it wasn’t a big decision for him to do so.

Instead, his frustration came from the fact that it took so long for the team’s doctors to allow him to get out of there.

“I just felt it was important that I was with them,” Green said. “I tried to come out earlier but this [doctor] didn’t think that was a good idea. He wanted to keep the swelling down for the MRI and wanted me to stay in my back. But I was like, ‘Let me just put my sweatshirt on and I could sit at a table and watch the game, whether it was coaching help or encouragement, just to have my energy there for them.

“But when I’m not able to go out there, I know something is really wrong, so it took me a long time to get out there. But I was able to find a shower in the last few minutes and sneak out of there… just to see my boys and say goodbye to the fans.”

Green’s injury ended a season of ups and downs for him as he was not a regular starter for the first time in a decade and had the lowest average points and minutes per game since his first two seasons in the league, when he was a fringe player for the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, he shuttled back and forth between the NBA and the G League (then called the D-League). Green, who has won championships with the Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers, said it was the most challenging season of his career. He said that’s not just the case from a personal perspective, but because of everything the team has been dealing with as a whole, including Ben Simmons preparing for the start of the season and taking over from James Harden mid-year.

“By far,” said Green. “I’ve probably had more injuries this year than I’ve had in my career overall. Start, don’t start, play fewer minutes. The injuries alone were more frustrating than anything else. It’s now two years in a row here in the postseason where an injury happens where I feel I can help my team so we can get to the next level and we’re falling short and I had to watch from the sidelines. That’s never great. But yeah figuring out rotations, having guys not playing, trades, who’s swapping, trades happening, new team, new faces, trying to adapt and adapt. It’s been a rollercoaster year, especially with the injuries.

When asked what happened to the team’s play on the pitch over the course of the season, Green became the youngest player to highlight a version of mental toughness as an issue plaguing the roster.

It’s been remarkable how often it’s come up over the past 24 hours, with at least three players – Green, Tobias Harris and Georges Niang – all emphasizing some aspect of mental toughness, intent or focus as something that needs to change going forward.

“We’ve been through a lot all season,” said Green. “There were a lot of distractions, a lot of different ones, you know, it’s been a rollercoaster ride. Ups and downs. I think for the most part we also have a lot of young people. You coped well. Very well. But we still have some way to go when it comes to being mentally strong and I think just being mentally focused and mature. Staying locked up for 48 minutes for the duration of the season. That comes with a certain age and maturity. So we have a lot of young people and they’re getting it, they’re learning it. Some of them have never seen it or know how to win. So, learn how to become pros. But I think we’ve got a good foundation. And if we could get everyone back next year, that would be a pretty good start. We’d be ahead of the curve to start the season. I think we’ll be back , get straight back into the discussions about the competition.” “

As for Green’s own future, he has a $10 million non-guaranteed contract for next season, guaranteed on July 1. When asked about Green’s future later Friday, Daryl Morey, president of basketball operations for the 76ers, said it was too early to say what this team would do with his deal.

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