There was a scary moment in the Los Angeles Clippers’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday afternoon, one more familiar to NFL fans than NBA watchers.
Blake Griffin was driving the baseline late in the first quarter when he took an inadvertent elbow to the forehead by Warriors backup center JaVale McGee. He grabbed his head with both hands and fell to the floor, with his right hand shaking in much the same way as Tom Savage’s did during a Houston Texans game. He remained there for a few minutes before getting up and, with a forehead bruise, walking to the locker room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
“When you see Blake’s hand [tremble], you knew it was bad,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said (via the Los Angeles Times). “I know it’s a concussion.”
It wasn’t clear whether Griffin had briefly lost consciousness, but Rivers said he was “struggling” when he spoke with him at halftime.
“He got hit pretty hard,” Rivers said after the game. “You can always tell … when those players stick around, you know it was a hard hit. And then when you see Blake’s hand, you knew it was bad.”
Griffin enters the NBA’s concussion protocol and would seem unlikely to play Monday against Atlanta.
“Listen, we’re in the new world of concussions, so we don’t know anything about them,” Rivers said. “But I just know it’s dangerous and you got to do all the right things and all the right steps. That would mean he’s not playing Monday.”
The NBA’s protocol requires that a player remain out until:
- He is without concussion-related symptoms at rest.
- He has been evaluated by a physician.
- He has successfully completed the NBA return-to-participation exertion protocol.
- A team physician has discussed the return-to-participation process and decision with the director of the NBA concussion program, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.
The decision then rests with the team’s physician.
The protocol for returning to participation requires several steps:
- The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion — from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.
- With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).
- It’s important to note that there is no time frame to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.
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