The Pacers' Victor Oladipo was taken off the court on a stretcher Wednesday with what the team described as “a serious injury to his right knee.” The sixth-year guard is set for an MRI exam Thursday, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Indiana officials “fear” Oladipo suffered a “season-ending” injury that will “require surgery.”
Oladipo was hurt in the second quarter of a home game against the Raptors while chasing down Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, who was trying to haul in a long pass near Indiana’s basket. Both players fell to the floor, but while Siakam quickly got up again, Oladipo stayed down in obvious pain as medical staff came to his assistance.
The former Indiana Hoosiers star, who has blossomed with the Pacers since arriving in a July 2017 trade from the Thunder, gave the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse a thumbs-up as he was stretchered away. However, Oladipo’s potential loss would be a huge blow to his team, which is in third place in the Eastern Conference but which relies heavily on his scoring and playmaking skills.
“It’s unfortunate,” the Pacers' other starting guard Wednesday, Darren Collison, told the crowd afterward. “We’ve got to keep going for him.”
The sight of Oladipo suffering what appeared to be a major injury elicited an outpouring of supportive messages from other NBA players, including Siakam, who tweeted out prayers for his on-court opponent after the Pacers' 110-106 win. Siakam was joined by the likes of LeBron James, Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal.
Former Pacers star Paul George, who severely injured his leg while playing with Team USA in 2014 and missed almost all of the following season, sent “positive vibes” Oladipo’s way while asking that “everybody pray” for the latter. George went to Oklahoma City in the trade that brought Oladipo, as well as forward Domantas Sabonis, to Indiana, and while there were some questions at the time about whether the Pacers could have gotten a better return, the deal has ultimately been a shrewd one for both sides.
Oladipo has become Indiana’s leader, after looking more like a complementary piece in three seasons in Orlando, which made him the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft, and one with the Thunder. A former All-Met out of powerhouse DeMatha, Oladipo was named to his first all-star team last season, in which he averaged a career-high 23.1 points per game, and he has been on pace for repeat honors this season, averaging 19.2 points with career highs in rebounds (5.7) and assists (5.3).
Asked after Wednesday’s game if he thought Oladipo’s injury was “serious,” Pacers Coach Nate McMillan replied, “I think so.” Describing Oladipo as “the most positive guy on this team” and having “a beautiful spirit about him,” McMillan said, “He has always been a guy that tried to lift his team — we got to lift him now.”
“We always want to stick together through thick and thin,” Indiana’s Thad Young said. “We know with Vic going down it was definitely going to be tough but we want to keep fighting for him.”
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