A horrific sight on TV
IT was the fourth time that I have witnessed on television a gruesome player injury on a basketball floor, the most recent of which was what happened to All-Star forward Gordon Hayward yesterday during his Boston debut (following seven seasons with the Utah Jazz) and in the opening game of the National Basketball Association’s 2017-18 season between the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Before the game, the narrative was how Cleveland fans would react to ex-Cavs guard Kyrie Irving’s first appearance in a Celtics uniform (he was booed early) and LeBron James’ questionable status due to a left ankle sprain he suffered in training camp before the 32-year-old The King eventually suited up for Cleveland and thus extended his streak for most consecutive opening-game appearances without a miss at 15 seasons.
In the end, though, the major story was not even about the Cavs’ 102-99 victory over the Celtics but prayers being offered by Hayward’s NBA peers and hoop fans worldwide for his speedy recovery from a horrific left ankle fracture he suffered with 6:45 left in the first quarter.
This was a real ankle-breaker as the 27-year-old Hayward was going up for an alley-oop pass but fell awkwardly on his leg going down.
Visually, Hayward’s ankle-turning injury was so horrifying, comparable to those previous serious injuries sustained by Fil-foreigner Eugene Tejada (fractured his spine causing paralysis) in the local professional league a decade or so ago, University of Louisville guard Kevin Douglas Ware Jr. in a U.S. NCAA tournament game in 2013 and, a year later, by then-Indiana Pacer Paul George in an all-NBA intra-squad scrimmage among Team USA prospects for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Ware, a 6-foot-2 guard, was a 20-year-old sophomore at Louisville at the time. He suffered an open fracture of the tibia to his right leg during the first half of the Cardinals’ third-round (Elite Eight) match against the Duke Blue Devils in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Ware landed awkwardly after attempting to block a three-point shot by Duke guard Tyler Thornton and suffered an open fracture to his right leg that protruded several inches out of his shin.
When the Cardinals won the NCAA tournament that year, Ware was asked by teammates to cut the championship nets.
Ware eventually appeared in nine games with Louisville during the 2013-14 season before being granted “redshirt” status for him to fully recover from his injury.
Ware was to transfer to Georgia State University in April 2014 and spent two seasons with the Panthers where he was the Sun Belt Conference Most Valuable Player in 2015.
While Ware was not taken in the 2016 NBA draft, the 24-year-old New York native has found roundball employment in the Greek league since the time.
George, an NBA player since 2010-11, was an Indiana Pacer when he tried out for the Team USA to the FIBA World Cup in the summer of 2014. During a nationally-televised intra-squad scrimmage at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on August 1, 2014, the 6-foot-8 wingman went down with a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg after he landed awkwardly at the base of a basket stanchion while fouling James Harden.
George eventually returned to the Pacers in the final six games of the 2014-15 NBA campaign, earned a spot on the gold medal-winning U.S. team to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and, in July this year, he was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a year remaining on his contract after spending his first seven seasons in the pro league at Indiana.
Tejada, Ware, George and Hayward: Their injuries were so gruesome and graphically disturbing that you can’t seem to forget about them.
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