NBA Athletes Reunite with Their Hip Surgeon Over a Game of Hoops

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July 3 Reunion at St. Vincent Medical Center

I realized I used to play against him at pickup games when I was 18

NBA referee Leon Wood, former first draft pick for the Philadelphia 76ers, is scheduled for his first post-operative visit and a game of hoops with Dr. Schmalzried on Thursday, July 3.

Just six weeks ago, Wood walked into the Joint Replacement Institute (JRI) seeking a second opinion about his arthritic left hip. That's when he recognized surgeon Thomas P. Schmalzried, M.D. from the basketball court.

"I realized I used to play against him at pickup games when I was 18," said Wood, who went on to a 10-year NBA playing career and now works as an NBA referee.

Wood had suffered from progressive joint instability on the basketball court and felt his hip nearly dislocate when he took a quick step to the left to follow the players. There was pain sitting in coach seats on airplanes to and from games.

When Wood was ready for surgical intervention, he was glad to know it would be performed by Dr. Schmalzried, an orthopedic surgeon with expertise in the latest bone-conserving techniques, and a fellow athlete. Wood checked into St. Vincent Medical Center a few days later, underwent hip resurfacing surgery on May 26 and went home on May 28. He hopes to get back to the business of refereeing NBA games by the fall, a job that keeps him on the road for nine months out of the year.

After the checkup, Wood and Dr. Schmalzried plan to head over to St. Vincent Medical Center's gymnasium for some low-impact free throws with Dennis Shaffer, another NBA player who underwent hip resurfacing surgery by Dr. Schmalzried.

Dr. Schmalzried recalls having played pickup basketball with both men long before they became his patients. "I am really gratified by this circle of hoops life and the fact that I was able to get them back on the court," Schmalzried said.

Joint Replacement Institute
The Joint Replacement Institute (JRI) at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles is a world leader in hip and knee joint replacement and offers hip resurfacing, a less invasive hip replacement procedure for younger, more active adults that conserves maximum bone. JRI surgeons also perform shoulder replacements.

About St. Vincent Medical Center
Providing compassionate healthcare for those who need hope and healing has been the mission of St. Vincent Medical Center for more than 150 years. Located just west of Downtown, St. Vincent is a world-renowned, 347-bed state-of-the-art facility, offering comprehensive medical services, including multi-organ transplantation, spine surgery, joint replacement, general orthopedics, cancer treatment, cardiovascular services, thoracic surgery, electrophysiology, interventional radiology and the multi-disciplinary therapies available from the House Ear and Neurosurgery Center.

St. Vincent Medical Center's community outreach programs offer health screenings, diabetes education, after-school activities and other services targeting high-risk populations.

St. Vincent Medical Center is part of the Daughters of Charity Health System, a nonprofit healthcare system spanning the California coast. We are committed to caring for the whole person - body, mind and spirit.
If you would like to attend the reunion, please call 213.265.6618.

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Sharon Greengold
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