“While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required,” Martin O’Malley, the Nets' team orthopedist, said in a team-issued statement. “Caris will begin a period of rehabilitation with the Nets' performance staff, following which he is expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season.”
Other players in the game were visibly upset by the incident, and NBA players watching from afar sent messages of support for the third-year small forward.
LeVert was coming into his own as an NBA force, but he likely faces a long period of rehabilitation following an injury all too reminiscent of the one suffered last season by the Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward. LeVert was going for a chase-down block as time was running out in the second quarter when he landed awkwardly on his right leg with his foot pointing at an unnatural angle. (The video can be seen here, but warning, it’s graphic.)
LeVert had his head under a towel and appeared to be sobbing as he was taken off the court on a stretcher, and teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shed a few tears during the ensuing free throw attempts by the Timberwolves' Josh Okogie. LeVert was taken to a hospital for a full evaluation.
“We didn’t even talk when we came in at halftime,” the Nets' Joe Harris said. “There was nothing to be said. Guys were crying. It was really that horrific just to see.”
“Noooo!!” tweeted the Hawks' Jeremy Lin, as NBA players flocked to social media to express their shock at the scene. Lin, who played with LeVert on the Nets over the previous two seasons, described his ex-teammate as “one of the hardest workers I know,” adding “Ughhh” and a prayer emoji.
“Prayers for Caris LeVert. Hate to see this,” tweeted the Cavaliers' Kevin Love. “Having a hell of a season. Keep strong.”
Also offering prayers, the Rockets Chris Paul said, “Been watching him play this season and I’ve loved every bit of it! Hate to see him get injured.”
“I feel for this man. Was having an incredible year,” Houston’s Eric Gordon tweeted. “Praying for u dude.”
After a career at Michigan that was hampered by injuries, LeVert fell to the 20th pick of the 2016 draft. His scoring average went from 8.2 as a rookie to 12.1 before jumping this season to 19.0 along with an 18.9 player efficiency rating.
The Ohio native, a relative of music stars Eddie, Gerald and Sean Levert (who did not capitalize the “v"), hit the game-winning shot in the Nets' win Friday at Denver and was generating some early all-star buzz. Following Monday’s game, Brooklyn Coach Kenny Atkinson called LeVert the “heart and soul” of his team.
“I just know Caris, if anybody’s coming back from this, knowing the human, the character, the person, the player, he’ll come back from this thing,” Arkinson said. “Our thoughts should be with him [and his] recovery. I really don’t want to talk about this game or anything else.”
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