Whoa-oh-oh-ooohhhh for the longest time, ACL injuries were a death sentence on an NBA career. Just a few years ago, if a player tore a knee ligament, he might come back but he was never the same. Just ask Penny Hardaway.

Nowadays, however, a tear isn’t so bad. You’ll miss the rest of the season, but science and medicine has advanced so far that these injuries are no longer career-threatening. Plus, there’s a super cool club of people who always talk torn ligaments. From NBA.com’s David Aldridge:

Me: Did you become an ACL expert after all this?

MR: I talked to (Oklahoma City’s) Eric Maynor the other night. I’ve talked to a number of guys who had ACLs — Josh Howard, Perk (Kendrick Perkins). I know I’m missing some guys. We’ve all kind of talked about that experience. That’s almost a fraternity within a fraternity, guys who are playing with ACLs. Shaun Livingston, I’ve talked to him about his situation. Jamal Crawford did his early in his career. A lot of guys reached out to me when I did mine. We all kind of talk amongst each other to see how we’re doing.

I can’t decide if this would be the most fun club to be a part of or the worst. On one hand, you’d have to deal with a painful tear that could totally ruin your way of life. On the other hand, you get to reminisce about awesome basketball stuff with a bunch of great basketball players. I would need to know if there is a jacket with a crest involved to make my decision.

Joking aside, it’s really cool that there is a support group for injured players. Knee injuries are traumatic for basketball players, obviously, so it’s nice that they have other players to lean on. Even if a doctor has done a hundred ligament repairs, odds are the most of them aren’t for guys who need those ligaments because they are paid millions of dollars to use them. Being able to rely on fellow players for advice and encouragement is a luxury.

That being said, if these meetings turn in to a big “Remember when you used to be able to jump over people” session, then this is a huge bummer. I love the idea of Amar’e Stoudemire and Greg Oden talking about how to deal with knee injuries, but not if they’re being all sad about it.

Keep your heads up, guys. And maybe consider moving to Phoenix.