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Kenny Atkinson denies any intent to deceive on Kyrie Irving’s injury, cites lack of medical depth

Houston Rockets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

If you look up “shoulder impingement syndrome” and “thoracic bursitis” in some medical texts, you’ll find the two conditions are seen as similar, if not synonymous. The position of the injury is the same, the recommended treatment is the same as well: rest, physical therapy and in extreme cases, the administration of steroids and surgery.

The Nets initially identified Irving’s problem as “impingement,” but back on Christmas Eve, Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson wrote on that the diagnosis was thoracic bursitis, citing a source inside the Nets organization. We noted the similarities in our December 24 story on the issue.

Two days later, Kenny Atkinson, reacting to the news, said simply, “it’s not true.” Then on Saturday, Irving used both “impingement” and “bursitis” to describe his condition. That led some to suggest that the head coach hadn’t been completely truthful. On Tuesday, Atkinson tried to explain what he meant. He chalked it up to a lack of medical knowledge.

“Yeah, I mean, yes, problem is, I’m not a medical expert. That’s one of the issues,” Atkinson said before the game. “Bursitis and impingement, all that, I need to get my medical book out. My mom used to have one in the living room, I forget what it was called, but you know, yeah, we’re on the same page.

“I’m glad he was open, honest, and spoke with you guys and was transparent. I think we’re good with that as an organization.”

Of course, the organization might have been more forthcoming in the weeks after Irving first felt pain on November 4 or after he went to the bench, unable to raise his arm, 10 days later. Rather than relying on Atkinson’s lack of medical depth, they could have provided someone on either their medical or performance team. They didn’t.

As of now, of course, the team is a wait-and-see mode with Irving. He got a cortisone shot the same day the piece came out and is waiting to see how well it works. If not, season ending surgery looms.