View Full Version : 6/18 ESPN - pavel's pituitary problem

06-18-2003, 10:19 AM
Diagnosis nearly crushed Podkolzine's dream
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Wednesday, June 18
Updated: June 18
10:51 AM ET

Pavel Podkolzine has overcome just about every obstacle imaginable for a young NBA draft prospect over the last six months. But the last one -- a diagnosis of acromegaly (a growth hormone secreting pituitary adenoma) late last week -- pushed him to the edge.


In the span of less than half a year, Podkolzine had risen from obscurity playing in Varese, Italy to a potential high lottery pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. In December, only one NBA team had even seen him play. After an Insider report in late December, the number had swelled to 18 by early May.

But it wasn't until Podkolzine's surprising workout in front of more than 100 NBA scouts and GMs in Chicago that Podkolzine finally started to believe that his dream of playing in the NBA was going to come true.

Podkolzine took a routine physical at the Chicago pre-draft camp the next morning, but had no reason to worry. Just weeks earlier, Podkolzine underwent a battery of tests in Italy to rule out any potential health problems -- including pituitary disorders. When the results came back clean, Podkolzine decided to leave his home of two years and head to the United States.

Podkolzine and his agent, Justin Zanik, didn't know anything was amiss until doctors in Memphis (where Podkolzine had just flown for his first workout) confronted him with a suspicious report from the league. An MRI taken by the league showed that Podkolzine had an unusually large pituitary gland -- a sign of a possible disorder.

The news was devastating to Podkolzine. In the past, the news of such a disease had potentially fatal ramifications. For a brief moment, Podkolzine thought his career, and possibly his life, was coming to a tragic early end. For the next five days, Podkolzine kept working out for NBA teams hoping that a group of specialists would figure out how to fix whatever was wrong.

Podkolzine didn't get his actual diagnosis until Tuesday evening. That's when the good news started flowing in.

In the past decade, doctors have perfected an endoscopic surgical procedure that corrects the problem rather simply. The minor surgery lasts about two hours and has a hospital stay of 24 to 48 hours. Doctors told him that if all goes well, Podkolzine could be back on the court shooting and running in 10 to 14 days. In all likelihood, there will be no long-term ramifications to Podkolzine's health or NBA career.

From talking with NBA teams, Zanik says the likely course of action for Podkolzine will be to have him play in the summer league and then have the surgery in August. That would give him plenty of time to prepare for training camp.

The news brought a sigh of relief from everyone involved. Zanik quickly notified teams Podkolzine was working out for and told them to get their doctors working on it right away.

"From what I understood from the doctors, this should have zero impact on Pavel's career," Zanik told Insider. "I just wanted to make sure that the team doctors concurred."

It appears they do. Insider talked to two NBA GMs with draft picks in the lottery who said they learned of the initial diagnosis last Thursday and their doctors had examined the medical report. Both GMs said the issue wouldn't stop them from taking Podkolzine with their pick. Both GMs also stated that they felt that with the diagnosis and a series of strong workouts, Podkolzine would be drafted anywhere from No. 5 to No. 12 in the draft.

Zanik isn't taking any chances. He's already worked Pavel out in Memphis, Milwaukee, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles (for both the Clips and Lakers) and Seattle. He'll be in Utah today. After the workout, Zanik will face a tough decision. Does he keep Podkolzine in the draft?

"I've talked to everyone who has worked him out and to a one they've told me it's not an issue," Zanik said. "But the timing of everything is a bit tough. I wish we had another week for everyone to get comfortable with everything. However, the deadline [to withdraw from the draft] is Thursday."

Zanik said he most likely will leave Podkolzine in the draft. But he'll spend some time on the phone today getting a guarantee that Podkolzine will be taken early. If he doesn't, he may just decide to pull him out, have the procedure done this summer, and re-enter him into the draft next year.

"I've been told that he'd be a candidate for the No. 1 pick in the draft next year," Zanik said. "If we get him on a good team, get him some playing time several teams think he could go that high."

Ummmmm Ok
06-18-2003, 11:18 AM
I heard about this on ESPN this morning with Chad Ford. They said they hes young enough that they are able to catch it and it won't be a problem for his future and his life.

Thanks for posting OP

06-18-2003, 11:44 AM
Big guys with pituitary problems scare the hell out of me. Even if it is corrected, the fact remains that he probably had abnormal growth thanks to this problem. I'm not a doctor so I don't know what exactly that means. But I do know that virtually all other pituitary giants eventually have major health problems. You just can't grow that fast and not have problems, I don't care what his agent and the doctors he paid say. What these reports say is what we've all been wondering, Pavel is actually what his deformed face suggests: a little less handicapped than normal pitutiary freak. Muresan, Andre the Giant, The 8'5" Turkish guy with the accordion back, now Pavel... They all eventually had health problems, not because of the surgery but because their body didn't grow the way a human body is supposed to grow. Isn't it nice to have a natural 7'6" giant on your team? An actual normal human that just happens to be enormous? Yao Ming is like that. Slavko Vranes is like that. Bradley is like that. I'm beginning to think this Pavel guy is an enormous bust waiting to happen. And to think I actually started to get excited about him. Hah!

06-18-2003, 12:16 PM
Mad...medicine has come a long way in dealing with his type of problem...the Doctor who sleeps next to me says it shouldn't be a bad problem....

BUT, having said that, I agree with you. I do NOT like guys with any health issues.

Here's the kicker...I've read elsewhere that he's STILL GROWING...the treatment should arrest that...but my gracious....do WE need health issues.

this guy could be great or a horrible bust....who knows ?

I keep reading over and over, on many sites, that we're making serious overtures for the #4 or #5....so we have someone picked out....so this scares me.

06-18-2003, 01:43 PM
if we got the number 4 or 5 pick, i don't think i want us to go for pavel. sounds a little too risky to trade up so high to get. we'll see though.

06-18-2003, 02:22 PM
I certainly would not take him at 4 or 5. If we traded up a bit further down than that I would take the risk. You just never know.

As for the pituitary thing, it can be medically managed with a low risk of troubles. But, big guys often get big guy injuries. So any big guy like this is a risk. It's worth it to me lower in the draft.

06-18-2003, 02:25 PM
i'd be more worried about the health of his feet in the long term than anything else... if the doctors say he's ok..i'm willing to trust their judgement..doesn't mean i would take him at #4 though

06-18-2003, 02:39 PM
Pituitary Giant:


Revolutionary Giant:


06-18-2003, 02:41 PM
Originally posted by: Murphy3
i'd be more worried about the health of his feet in the long term than anything else... if the doctors say he's ok..i'm willing to trust their judgement..doesn't mean i would take him at #4 though

You hit on it dead on. These kind of players often have foot, knee and achilles problems. The other is a nuisance, but treatable.

06-18-2003, 05:22 PM
Well it seems like we may have Chris Bosh targeted anyway...I doubt it's Pavel. Although, we might me looking at Lampe....the lure of another "Dirk" might be too much for Nellie to resist.