Friday night in Denver, Kemba Walker drove his read into Semi Ojeleye mid section while trying to corral a loose ball. He immediately fell to the floor, causing Brad Stevens to call a timeout right away. A hush came over the arena once the crowd realized the seriousness of the situation.
After a long stoppage in the game, Walker left the court strapped into a stretcher. He did not appear to be moving or speaking a lot. He was taken to a hospital after being diagnosed with concussion like symptoms, according to the Celtics.
After being evaluated in a Denver hospital, he was cleared to leave. Walker was able to meet up with the team for their flight back to Boston. He was tested again on Saturday, according to the Celtics.
Both teams looked visually shook by the entire incident. Especially Ojeleye, who brought over a few Celtics teammates to huddle around. Boston guard Brad Wanamaker said post-game Ojeleye was leading a prayer.
“I saw him in the ambulance at halftime that took him to the hospital,” Brad Stevens told the media following the 96-92 loss to the Nuggets. “He had his wherewithal and (was) in pretty decent spirits which was good, obviously.”
“(Walker is) a leader. He’s probably the smallest dude on the floor every time we step out but probably got the biggest heart,” Jaylen Brown said post-game. “So we definitely lean on him. We’ll welcome him back when he rests up and everything is taken care of. But right now it’s probably best for him to get a little bit of rest.”
Kemba Walker’s health is more important than the next stretch of games for the Celtics. That is true on multiple fronts. Kemba Walker the person, not the basketball player, could easily have had his life altered due to this play. Everything changes when the head and neck are involved. The physical aspect of this injury will take some heal. But the fans should not forget about the mental challenges that might come along as well.
Walker might not feel completely confident or comfortable once he steps back on the court. That play might still be in the back of his mind. That could lead to him not being as aggressive going to the basket or after loose balls. All players would react differently to traumatic injuries. There is no way to train yourself for that rehab.
Which brings this to the Celtics perspective. There is no reason to rush Walker back. He should not slip on that Celtics Green until he is 100% physically and mentally healthy.
While they want their star point guard back as quick as possible, the Celtics need to think big picture. Boston needs Walker, not just for this season, but for the foreseeable future as well. An injury like that could set his entire season back if he rushes the rehab. Not to mention, this injury could also have an impact on Walker away from the court.
So Kemba Walker should get all the time he needs. He should come back once he is absolutely physically and mentally ready to go. I am sure the Celtics and their fans can wait for that.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones