Dirk's injured finger is focus of concern

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on June 1, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 1 at 10:34 PM

Fans likely didn't even notice the moment Dallas Mavericks star  Dirk Nowitzki seriously hurt his hand during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Only during a time-out could TV viewers see him looking at his injured hand strangely.

A team doctor confirms to News 8 that Nowitzki tore the extensor tendon on the middle finger of his left hand.

"So the tendon would be ruptured right in front of the fingernail, just as it passes over the joint," explained hand specialist Dr. John Westkaemper of Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Irving. "And because that tendon is popped, basically the finger would drop down naturally because the other tendon is pulling it down."

Dr. Westkaemper said says a torn extensor tendon, which runs along the top of the hand, makes it impossible to straighten that finger. The tip of the finger often dangles.

It's a relatively common injury that's earned the nickname "mallet finger" because of how it looks.

"If his finger is dropped down, then when he's reaching his finger could get in the way of receiving a pass if he's not wearing a splint," Dr. Westkaemper said.

Nowitzki confirmed that he will wear a splint to hold his finger in place.

Experts say there is no reason this injury should bench Dirk as he tries to win his first NBA title.

"I think if it were his shooting hand, it might affect his shot somewhat," said Dr. Westkaemper, who treats many athletic hand injuries. "Because it's the other hand, it shouldn't get in the way too much of him playing."

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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