Allow me to quickly introduce myself: my name is Paul Sondhi and I've been writing sports for a few years now. I co-run the Nets' blog WhoopDeDamnDo and am an avid NBA fan. The Hornets are my favorite team and I look forward to writing about them weekly here on At The Hive. Got any feedback? Tweet me (@Paul_Sondhi) or e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Enjoy the column!
Concussions in sports aren't new. Professional athletes are constantly taking hits, inadvertent or intentional. In a recent BS Report, Bill Simmons talked to concussion expert Chris Nowinski about his research regarding concussions and their effects. If you have time, give that podcast a listen.
As a fan of all sports, I've seen some of my personal favorite players (DeSean Jackson, David Wright) go down with scary blows to the head, with the most recent being Chris Paul. Every time these injuries occur, it is near mind-numbing. To see an athlete you look up to and admire crumple to the ground and remain motionless for a few moments is tough to swallow. At the end of the day, these guys are playing a game for a living. But, when that fine line between playing and a real threat to health is blurred, the situation can turn scary quickly.
There are some who consider professional athletes rich and pompous people who are lucky to be naturally gifted. If I see a guy who pulls a hamstring sit for two weeks, I too begin to question him. But, concussions are a whole different ballgame. Concussions affect everyone differently and their severity may vary from incident to incident. In general, though, concussions should be taken with extreme caution and care. I believe it is important for everybody, not just athletes, to be informed of the dangers that concussions represent. I can't speak from personal experience, but I still realize the value of knowing about concussions.
Let me make one thing clear: the NBA doesn't have a concussion problem. The recent concussions sustained by Anthony Morrow and Damion James of the Nets, as well as CP3, all occurred within a two-day span of each other (Morrow/James on March 5th, CP3 on March 6th). This is one of those abnormalities that happens every NBA season, similar to Travis Outlaw making a jumpshot. All kidding aside, I don't foresee this league having a concussion problem along the likes of the NFL, NHL, or even MLB.
However, the league is taking no chances. According to an AP report, the NBA is discussing a concussion policy that could possibly go into effect next season:
"The NBA is consulting with an independent neurologist and may establish a league-wide policy for handling concussions by next season, The Associated Press has learned."
NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed the discussions Tuesday.
'The NBA Team Physicians Society has been studying the issue of concussion management for several years and each team follows its own treatment and return-to-play protocols," he said. "In addition, the league is working with a consulting neurologist concerning the possible adoption of a league-wide protocol.'"
I would like to applaud the league for not ignoring this issue and taking swift action. The NBA is filled with competitors, and some of those competitors wouldn't be opposed to playing through a concussion for their teams to the detriment of their health. By making this issue of utmost importance, the NBA is ensuring that the health of its players is a top priority.
I make it a point to not take life too seriously and put things in perspective, but watching Paul fall to the ground was hard. His stats may not be as jaw-dropping as they have in the past few years, but no Hornets' fan can doubt that CP3 plays his heart out every night. He is a once-in-a-generation player who will, mark my words, go down in history as one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. Trust me, I could sing the praises of Paul for a couple more paragraphs, but that's not necessary. The point I'm getting to is that CP3 is the face of this franchise and as a diehard fan, his concussion made me take a step back and think about how this could potentially affect his career and life.
The Hornets haven't rushed Paul back to the court. From what I've read, he might come back on Saturday against Sacramento or Monday versus the Nuggets. As a realist, there is no part inside of me that wants to push CP3 back into lineup. Sure, there is playoff seeding on the line, but in the long-term it is in the best interest of Paul himself and the New Orleans Hornets as an organization to allow him to take his time and recover fully before he sees court action. While the Hornets are rejoicing over yesterday's comeback win over division rival Dallas, I still can't get the image of Paul being carted off the court on a stretcher out of my mind.
In the end, concussions are as important as we want them to be. It's easy to say that a guy should be playing no matter what if he is making millions, but as fans we should remain realistic.