NEW ORLEANS — Hornets’ prized rookie power forward Anthony Davis was diagnosed with having a mild concussion during the team’s Nov. 2 game against the Utah Jazz at New Orleans Arena.
It may have pained Davis moreso that he had to sit out the next night’s game against the Bulls in Chicago, his hometown. The play that caused the injury appeared so innocuous, it hardly could be recalled without Davis describing it.
And that he would be sidelined a week as he went through “progressions” regarding evaluations concerning the status of the “mild” injury probably was not expected by those looking in from the outside. Davis returned to play Friday against Charlotte.
Hornets backup power forward/center Jason Smith experienced a concussion last year, and said it’s nothing with which to play. He kept having headaches, he said, but it didn’t feel like an injury that would keep one out of games.
“You might be a little bit off,” Smith said.
But he knew something was wrong, and he wasn’t taking any chances, with his career and certainly with his life.
“I think I said a lot last year that I didn’t want to become one of those stats of continual headaches after I’m done playing,” he said. “Concussions are a crazy thing, because you don’t see a bruise and you don’t feel a bruise and you’re not sore.”
Davis said that when it first happened, Smith told him to take his time with it.
“That’s what I did,” Davis said. “You only have one brain, so you can’t mess around with it.”
Davis, just 19 and a budding star who appears to have a wonderful career ahead of him, said it also was important to return to the level at which he was accustomed to playing.
“I didn’t want to go out there at 90 percent,” he said. “I wanted to be at 100 percent and be at the level I competed at before.”
Davis said he had headaches after the injury, but nothing in the past few days. Smith described the progressions concerning a concussion that help a player return healed, and why that can take awhile.
“The first series of tests, you have to take a test for reaction time,” he said. “It’s computerized to see if your reaction time is the same as before you have the concussion.
“You take a test beforehand so that you can have a baseline of what your reaction time is on certain questions. Then, if (doctors) think you have concussion-like symptoms, you have to take that same test. You either pass or fail.
“After you pass that, it goes onto getting your heart rate up, because it makes the blood pump a little bit more, and if you have a bruise in your brain, it’s going to hurt. You’re going to have headaches. That has to clear up totally.”
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins said that after a recent severe concussion, he is certain he had “a couple” of mild ones, like what Davis experienced, during his playing career, but there was not as much knowledge about the injury as there is today.
However, he had no doubt about it about three years ago, after fell and fractured his skull.
“(The concussion) was the one of the most miserable things I’ve ever dealt with,” he said. “I had vertigo for six months. The easiest thing to do is be tough, bite the bullet, everything is OK. But if you’ve ever had one, take your time, even with one that doesn’t seem too bad.”
Hornets coach Monty Williams was asked if the long break between games — going from Saturday to Wednesday — may have had something to do with the Hornets’ listless performance Wednesday night against Philadelphia.
Not one to embrace excuses, Williams nonetheless wondered. The team had last played on Saturday at Chicago, had Sunday off, then practiced Monday and Tuesday before Wednesday’s shoot-around.
“(Time off) should help you,” Williams said. “But maybe young guys need to keep playing games; I’m not sure.”
Williams said it’s part of the rigors of the NBA schedule that there will be stretches of no games and stretches of many games in a few days.
Williams will get to see soon. After Friday night’s game against Charlotte, the Hornets will be off until Wednesday, when they play the Rockets in Houston. After that, it’s back-to-back games against Oklahoma City at the Arena and on the road against Milwaukee.
76ers power forward Thaddeus Young is no stranger to New Orleans. Young was born in the Crescent City, and although reports say he moved with his family to Memphis when he was age 4, Young said it was more like 9 or 10.
Besides, Young said, he has been coming back to New Orleans since he was young, spending time at the home of relatives, particularly during the summer.
Young is the son of Felton Young, who was a 6-foot-9 former Holy Cross High School standout. He had memorable games against Brother Martin center Rick Robey, who went on to win titles with Kentucky and the Boston Celtics.
Holy Cross and Brother Martin vied in 1975 for the district championship as well as the championship of Class 4A, the state’s highest at the time, which Brother Martin won by beating Holy Cross in the title game.
Thaddeus Young includes New Orleans in the nonprofit work of his Young Feed Foundation, which works in low-income areas.
“We do things from helping with academic skills to mentorship to leadership development to sports,” he said. “We try to mentor the older kids, teach them how to be leaders, and let them mentor the younger kids.”
Young graduated from Mitchell High in Memphis with a 4.3 grade-point average before going on to Georgia Tech, where he spent one year before being the 12th overall pick of the Sixers in 2007.
“My parents (mother is Lula Hall) definitely were on me about academics,” he said.
Bulls center Joakim Noah received a talking to from coach Tom Thibodeau, presumably about being professional, after Noah took a 3-point shot with 3.8 seconds left in Chicago’s 99-93 home victory against Orlando this past week.
The Bulls have a promotion where fans can get a free hamburger from a local outlet if the team scores 100 points. Noah had made only one of two free throws with 23 seconds left, leaving the Bulls at 99. Perhaps influencing Noah’s decision was that point guard Kirk Hinrich had been booed after missing a shot with 10 seconds remaining.
“I got caught up in the moment,” Noah admitted.
After Noah’s miss, Orlando got the ball with a chance to close to three points and just maybe make it interesting. That had to be the gist of Thibodeau’s talk, although the coach said he kept that private.
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