Holding onto a slim 73-69 lead with just over six minutes remaining in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Paul George lunged for the ball in an attempt to steal it from Dwyane Wade:
As can be seen in the above video, George's arm was yanked backward by Wade as both players scrambled for what then was a loose ball. Rather than leading the Pacers' fast-break, the two players collided resulting in Wade kneeing PG in the head rendering him momentarily motionless and lastingly woozy.
Following the break in game play, the Pacers ultimately went on to lose Game 2, 87-83. Adding insult to literal injury, George admitted following the game that he suffered from blurred vision for the remainder of the contest, telling Pacers.com:
"I mean, I blacked out as soon as it happened. And then, the whole four or five minutes, however much time was remaining, I was just blurry. My eyes was blurry. I just tried to play through it."
At the initial point of injury, NBA.com's Hangtime Blog reports that the Pacers' training staff complied with the NBA's official concussion protocol:
According to a Pacers spokesperson, the medical staff asked George - on the court and over on the bench - all the questions that pertained to the NBA's official concussion protocol. George said he had no symptoms, other than pain in the back of his head from the blow itself. He was cleared to return and played the remainder of the game, finishing without another field goal, making 1 of 2 free throws and turning over the ball with 3:05 left and his team down 80-75.
After talking of the blurry vision later - neither coach Frank Vogel nor Hibbert knew George had experienced the issue - George went through the evaluation process again. And again, the Pacers reported, he passed. But George will be evaluated further, probably as soon as Wednesday, prior to Game 3 Saturday in Miami.
As assumed here by NBA.com's Steve Aschburner, Paul George did, once again, go through the evaluation process, this time with a different result:
However, on Wednesday Paul George underwent more testing and has been diagnosed with a concussion.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) May 21, 2014
The #Pacers consulting neurologist diagnosed Paul George with a concussion based on his statement that he briefly lost consciousness— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) May 21, 2014
Now, officially diagnosed with a concussion, Paul George must be asymptomatic at rest and must pass the league's official return-to participation exertion protocol in order to be cleared to play in Saturday's Game 3. After exhibiting, "no appreciable difference from his baseline neurological exam and his baseline score on the computerized assessment test," Paul will have to prove he can successfully proceed symptom free through several steps of increasing exertion, "from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills."
While each player's case and recovery time frame varies, it is certainly a help that the Pacers and Heat have three days off before reconvening for Game 3 Saturday in Miami:
All injuries are unique to the individual, but G. Hill suffered a concussion in Game 4 v NYK last yr. He missed Gm 5 but played 4 days later— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) May 21, 2014
It may be too soon to speculate whether Paul George will actually be cleared to play Saturday, but the fact that his team's hopes of advancing to the NBA Finals may rest on the results of medical testing proves exactly how much luck impacts a team's ability to win an NBA title. Out of concern for his aging knee and various other ailments, the Miami Heat only played Dwyane Wade in 54 games this season to make sure he was rested and healthy for the NBA playoffs. And now, incidentally, one of the Future Hall of Famer's knees has not prevented him from competing at the highest level, but it may have impacted the end of Game 2 and ruled out his rival's most pivotal star in Game 3.