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OLYMPICS

Knee injury knocks Blake Griffin out of the Olympics

Clippers' star will have arthroscopic surgery and is expected to be ready for the NBA season.

July 12, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts to a foul call during a playoff game against San Antonio in May. A knee injury will prevent Griffin from playing in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts to a foul call during a playoff game… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

Blake Griffin received a diagnosis of a torn medial meniscus in his left knee and will have arthroscopic surgery, probably early next week, the Clippers announced Thursday night.

Griffin will not be playing for the U.S. Olympic basketball team in London this summer, but he should be available for Clippers training camp that starts at the end of September or in early October.

Griffin is expected to be out about eight weeks after the surgery and should be ready to play when the regular season starts.

If all goes well after Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic performs the surgery, Griffin should make a full recovery to be ready by the second or third week in September.

Griffin had an MRI exam Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles, the results of which were then analyzed by ElAttrache and Clippers team physician Steven Shimoyama.

"We're relieved that this does not affect Blake's ability to be ready in time for training camp," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said in a statement. "Missing out on the Olympic experience will be tough for him to take.

"I know how dedicated he was to doing that. We're glad we can get this fixed now and take advantage of the available time for him to fully recover."

It's the same knee Griffin injured right before his rookie season in 2009, but this injury is not related, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

ElAttrache is the same doctor who performed the procedure on Griffin's stress fracture on his left kneecap in January 2010.

It was a two-part procedure: a left patellar fragment excision and a patellar tendon repair.

That injury caused Griffin to miss his rookie season with the Clippers in 2009-10.

But Griffin came back to be the rookie of the year the next season and hasn't missed a game since, playing in all 82 games in the 2010-11 season and all 66 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

It's also the same knee that Griffin sprained in Game 5 of the first-round Western Conference playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Griffin didn't miss a game in that series and played in the next four games in the semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs.

USA Basketball released a statement in which it said Griffin reported experiencing some discomfort in the knee after Wednesday night's scrimmage.

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo told reporters earlier Thursday that Griffin's injury might have been related to the All-Star's being injured during the playoffs.

Griffin had been given a clean bill of health after he took a physical Tuesday in Los Angeles, before he signed his five-year, $95-million contract extension.

"The reality is, that injury took place at the end of the season," Colangelo told reporters in Las Vegas. "And he had an option to get it scoped and he opted not to get scoped. And so, I guess he aggravated it."

It has not been the best of times for Clippers with the Olympic team.

Chris Paul sprained his right thumb during the first day of workouts with Team USA.

Paul, however, started for the U.S. on Thursday night against the Dominican Republic. He had no points and three assists in eight minutes of the 113-59 victory.

Griffin averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds in 36.2 minutes a game last season.

It was the second straight season he has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, making Griffin the first player to accomplish that feat since Elton Brand in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 with the Chicago Bulls.

New Orleans rookie forward Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in last month's NBA draft, is expected to replace Griffin on the U.S. Olympic team.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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