This season, Lopez is missing in action, out for the season after breaking his right foot for the second time, a devastating turn of events for the talented young center.
In an effort to prevent potential future problems, in addition to repairing the fracture, Lopez also underwent a procedure to redistribute the weight and balance of his foot.
That procedure, known as a "first metatarsal osteotomy," aims to realign the bones in the foot to relieve stress and decrease the likelihood of the injury reoccurring again.
For the first time since undergoing the surgery in January, Lopez spoke this past week about staying optimistic despite the obstacles he faces on the road to recovery.
“[The procedure is] going to work,” he said. “I’m definitely thinking that way. Some people say, ‘If this doesn’t work…’ I won’t think that. I’m ... thinking the other way.”
Back in 1999, former Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas underwent a foot reshaping surgical procedure similar to the one that Lopez underwent last month.
Ilgauskas was able to play over a decade in the NBA after the surgery, making two All-Star teams. His successful recovery is arguably a best-case scenario for Lopez.
However, as Fred Kerber reported Saturday in the New York Post, despite all the precautions and best intentions, a recovery like the one by Ilgauskas is no sure thing.
Kerber's piece, which is well worth your time, paints a pretty grim reality for Lopez. It's a reality in which foot problems have plagued star centers throughout NBA history, and few have recovered as successfully as Ilgauskas did.
Yao Ming is one of the most prominent players that comes to mind, as is Bill Walton. But as Walton adamantly says, as quoted in Kerber's piece, you just can't compare players and their injuries, as everybody (and every body) is unique and different.
Lopez expects to be ready to go at the start of training camp next season, when he'll be 26 years old. He's got plenty to prove, to himself, to his team, and to fans, but he is confident that he can bounce back and be the same player he's been in the past.
Read more: NY Post (Kerber)