This is uncharted territory for Seattle Storm forward Katie Gearlds, who is expected to expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks after tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in her left knee last Tuesday. The injury is the first of any significance, major or minor, Gearlds has ever suffered.
“I’ve never missed a game in my life,” Gearlds said after the Storm practiced Monday night before hitting the road for Connecticut today without her. “Since I was four years old, I’ve never missed a game, so it’s been a little frustrating.”
During her three-year WNBA career, Gearlds had missed just one of a possible 88 games, that due to coach’s decision during her rookie season. She suffered the injury while driving during the first quarter of the Storm’s loss to the Phoenix Mercury last Tuesday.
“When I landed, I felt something immediately,” explained Gearlds. “I tried to play for a couple of minutes. It didn’t feel right. I knew that something was wrong, and when I came to the bench I told (Athletic trainer) Tom (Spencer). I knew that I hurt, but I didn’t know what happened to it.”
An MRI the following morning revealed the damage to Gearlds’ PCL, a relatively rare injury for basketball. Unlike a torn ACL, Gearlds’ injury will not require surgery and is not automatically season ending. By staying off the knee for an extended period, Gearlds should give it a chance to heal.
“I can’t do any rehab right now,” she said. “It’s just a matter of keeping my leg straight, icing it, keeping the swelling out of it and wearing this wonderful thing (brace) 24 hours a day.
“The doctor wants me in this brace for three weeks. Hopefully by that time, it will all have scarred back and grown back together. That’s the hope, and if that’s the case then maybe I’ll be able to start doing something then. In two weeks from now, hopefully I’ll be able to start doing a little bit more.”
The timetable for Gearlds’ return would figure to see her come back late in the regular season or just at the start of a potential playoff run.
“It could be worse,” she said. “I’m thankful that it’s not worse and I just have to work hard to get it healthy and strong and get ready to go. My goal is to get better as quick as I can for the team. The team is important to me and I care a lot about the people on the team and what we’re trying to do.”
For now, Gearlds will have to get used to the unfamiliar situation of watching her teammates during practice and games while in street clothes.
“It sucks, to be honest,” she said. “But you know it gives me an opportunity to step back and watch the games, watch practice, observe things, be here to encourage my teammates and try to help them in any way.”