Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki ruptured a tendon in the middle finger of his nondominant left hand Tuesday night in Dallas’s loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Nowitzki suffered the injury, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon, when he tried to strip the ball from Heat forward Chris Bosh. After the injury, the finger was reportedly bent at an awkward angle. Mavericks’ team athletic trainer straightened the finger and taped it.
Nowitzki most likely suffered a mallet finger. This is an injury where the extensor tendon that straightens the finger is pulled off of the bone at the tip of the finger. Rupture of this tendon prevents the athlete from being able to straighten out the knuckle closest to the end of the finger. Typically the treatment is nonsurgical, as the tendon will heal to bone. The problem is that splinting in extension has to be maintained at all times for 6-8 weeks.
Nowitzki intends to play with his finger splinted or taped. “I think we’re going to play around with some other stuff. Try tape, or try a splint from the back so I can feel the ball and not lose grip of the ball. We’re going to play around with it today in practice, maybe tomorrow in shootaround. By then, I’ll have an idea how it feels and how it is to play with the thing. I’ll be OK. I’m really not worried. It’s not that sore, so it should be OK.”
It is his nondominant hand, it will be interesting to see if keeping his middle finger completely straight at the tip will affect his shooting, passing, and catching of the basketball. It will also be interesting to see if the tape or splint will adequately protect the tendon and help it heal while trying to use it in an active sport like basketball.
Read more about mallet fingers and other hand and wrist injuries in the Sports Injury Locator!