The Other Side of Injuries in the NBA

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There are multiple perspectives to an in-game injury: the player who is hurt, teammates and opponents on the court and, in the case of a contact injury, the other player involved.

Indiana Pacers forward Lavoy Allen knows that well in only his fourth NBA season. On Friday, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart stepped on Allen’s foot driving to the basket. Smart fell to the ground in pain and was carted off in a stretcher. He suffered a left ankle sprain with bone bruising and is expected to miss two-to-three weeks.

“It was a fast break,” Allen recounted. “I was on the side of him, A.J. (Price) ran in front of him. He tried to split us and then he ended up stepping on my foot. I saw him go down and grab his ankle.”

Allen immediately felt concern for Smart. Given Smart’s reaction, however, Allen removed himself from the area as teammates and staff surrounded the rookie.

“It looked like it was bad,” he said. “He was screaming so I didn’t think he really wanted to hear anything from me right now.”

Allen doesn’t know Smart personally, but he is close friends with Smart’s teammate Evan Turner, whom he played with his first three seasons. He planned to ask Turner to reach out to Smart on his behalf.

“I just hoped that he was okay and it’s not too bad of an injury,” Allen said. “Hopefully he’s back on the court really soon.”

A player doesn’t have to be involved directly with an injury to have it stay in their minds. Smart’s spill sparked Allen’s memory of his rookie year. He was on defense for the Philadelphia 76ers when Derrick Rose suffered a torn left ACL during the 2012 playoffs.

“He jumped up in the air, passed the ball and came down. His knee buckled,” Allen said of Rose. “I was right next to him.”

Unlike in the case of Smart, Allen didn’t realize Rose’s injury at first. Game play continued as Rose stayed down on the opposite end of the floor.

“I didn’t know he was going to be out the whole next year,” said Allen. “He actually wasn’t screaming in pain. He just backed up off the court, so I didn’t think it was that bad. It was crazy.”

Witnessing injuries up close early into a career is a reminder of how quickly things can change. They are part of the game, an aspect players have to cope with while still competing.

Said Allen, “You wish the guy a speedy recovery and try to continue playing.”