How Lakers’ Julius Randle Broke His Leg and What’s Next for Recovery, Rehab

It was not the debut that Julius Randle or the Los Angeles Lakers wanted. Instead of celebrating his first NBA game, Randle, the seventh overall pick in the June draft, was carried out of the Staples Center with his worried mother looking over him. The Lakers later confirmed that Randle had fractured his tibia, the larger of the two bones of the lower leg.   

The 6'9", 250-pound rookie had high expectations coming into this season, one that may have ended as his leg gave way. The injury mechanism for a fracture like this is unusual in that it is normally a traumatic injury, where the bone itself is overloaded and snaps under the pressure. The extreme, but apt, comparison is to Paul George, who fractured both his tibia and fibula in a freak accident earlier this year after awkwardly landing on the basket stanchion during a U.S. national team exhibition.   

Instead, Randle's leg appeared to simply give as he pushed off it going up to the rimmidway through the fourth quarter of L.A.'s season-opening loss to the Rockets. There was some contact in the moments immediately preceding the injury, but none that appeared to have sufficient force to cause a fracture. Randle hopped once on his left leg and went to the ground. It was not immediately clear where on the bone the fracture is, though the ankle shifted as he went up, which is an indication that the fracture is nearer the foot than the knee.

One study done by the Society of American Engineers showed that a normal male tibia fractures under a load of 260 foot-pounds of force. Dr. David Chao, the former team physician for the San Diego Chargers, tweeted that this type of fracture was atypical and "low energy":

It's easier to understand why George's leg couldn't handle the extreme and unusual loading of his body flying through the air and landing oddly than it is Randle's leg just snapping, which does imply some sort of unde...

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