By John Denton Dec. 11, 2017
ORLANDO – By his own count, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon figures he has suffered ``four or five’’ concussions in his lifetime, including the time in middle school when he was in a full-leg cast after tearing a knee ligament, fell out of the bleachers and onto his head.
This concussion – the one he suffered Friday following a face-first collision with the shoulder of a foe – is mild by comparison, Gordon stressed. That’s not Gordon being short-sighted or overly macho in trying to prove his toughness; it’s him speaking from experience and being able to gauge the severity of this concussion because of his past experiences.
Because his symptoms have been relatively mild, Gordon is extremely hopeful that he can continue to progress through the various stages of the NBA’s concussion protocol and be cleared by doctors to play for the short-handed Magic (11-17) on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
``I’m not new to concussions – I’ve been playing sports all my life. When you play contact or even non-contact (sports), sometimes you run into each other and you bump your head,’’ a sweaty Gordon said on Monday following a sprinting session. ``I’m not new to concussions and my brother (Drew) has been through five or six of them. I’ve been four or five of them. My sister (Elise) has been through some of them (as a basketball player) at Harvard, so I’m not new to them.
``Of course (he wants to play on Wednesday), but we’ll see what we can do,’’ Gordon added. ``I’m showing no symptoms and I feel good, but I’ll leave it up to the doctors.’’
Already without forwards Evan Fournier and Jonathan Isaac and guard Terrence Ross, the Magic are eager to get Gordon back on the floor as soon as possible. But the organization is taking all steps possible to protect their prized 22-year-old small forward from doing further damage following Friday’s concussion. On Sunday, he rode a stationary bike for the first time without any lingering symptoms and on Monday came the running exercises. On Tuesday, Gordon could be allowed back on the basketball court for non-contact basketball drills. He will only be allowed to return for Wednesday’s game if he gets clearance from an independent physician and the NBA allows it.
Down four key players, the Magic played with great energy and passion on Saturday in Atlanta, but saw a late lead dissolve into a 117-110 loss to the Hawks. Nikola Vucevic registered the first triple-double of his career with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, but it still wasn’t enough to help the Magic overcome the losses to several of their key players. Gordon leads the team in scoring at 18.5 points per game, while Fournier is second at 18.3 points a night.
Gordon was unavailable for that game after stumbling and running face-first into the shoulder of Denver guard Gary Harris a night earlier. Gordon’s lip was bloodied and he was checked out by Magic Head Athletic Trainer Keon Weise before being allowed back into the game. He buried a 3-pointer, but did not return after checking out with 1:11 left in the third period.
Gordon said his concussion-induced symptoms didn’t start until later. He said he had a headache and his teeth were sore and numb and added that he’ll be wearing a mouth guard in the future. He added that there was ``a little fogginess and almost like a dream state a little bit,’’ on Friday night. He credited the care of the Magic training and medical staff for catching the concussion when they did and getting him to safety.
``Orlando does a great job of taking care of me and making sure that my health and safety are first and foremost and I appreciate that. But I’m not really a go-slow type of guy,’’ Gordon said. ``You always want to be cautious, especially if it is something to your head. Concussions are dangerous and anything with the brain, but I feel better and I’m going through the protocol. I’ll see if I can get back, but there’s no rush.’’
Gordon has gotten advice on dealing with concussions from Vucevic – who suffered two of them early in his NBA career – and his brother, Drew, who had to stop playing hockey because of problems with concussions.
As for going back and watching his collision with Harris’ shoulder, Gordon said he had no desire to do so. After all, he said, collisions like that happen all the time in basketball and could very well happen to him again once he’s back in action – whenever that is.
``It was a collision and it happens in sports,’’ he said matter-of-factly. ``I don’t doubt that it’s going to happen again, so I’m not too worried about it. It was a hard hit, but I’ve been hit harder.’’
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