Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill was a late scratch on Thursday afternoon after a lingering headache led to a failed concussion test. While Hill's absence was felt by his team on the court, when and if he can return to play remains in limbo.
Before the NBA clears Hill to play, and it is now up to the NBA concussion policy not the Pacers, he must past a series of tests. The league's policy errors on the side of caution which it should, but considering the sense of urgency for the Pacers, also raises some serious concerns. This is how the AP reported the policy when it was announced by the league.
If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he will have to complete a series of steps to confirm that he's healthy enough for competition. Once he is free of symptoms, the player must make it through increasing stages of exertion - from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills - while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each one. Then the neurologist hired to lead the NBA's concussion program needs to be consulted before the player is cleared.
The process will likely take at least several days, if not weeks.
The last line of that description certainly evokes an 'uh oh' response, but it all boils down to the severity of the concussion. Kobe Bryant was officially diagnosed with a concussion after Dwyane Wade drilled him in the nose in the 2012 All-Star game. Bryant went through the league's protocol and played in the Lakers next game the following Wednesday, logging 33 minutes and 31 points.
Of course, other players, including Tyler Hansbrough, have missed months not weeks with lingering symptoms that started as a concussion. No doubt, Hill will be doing everything possible to return for Game 6 but there is little he can do if he is not healthy enough to pass the battery of tests.