Two seasons ago, the NBA created a concussion policy to ensure that players who'd suffered brain injuries wouldn't return to the court too soon. As medical science has learned more about the effects of concussions, it has become clearer that there's no way for an athlete to toughen up and play through the aftereffects of the brain slamming against the skull. We haven't yet figured out how to step up rehab for a concussion.
New Orleans Hornets head coach Monty Williams played NBA basketball in the '90s, so he comes from a (slightly) different era. That approach became very clear this weekend when Williams decried the league's concussion policy as it applies to star rookie Anthony Davis, who suffered a "mild" concussion in Friday night's game against the Utah Jazz. From Andrew Seligman for the Associated Press (and first reported by Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com):
Williams unloaded before Saturday's game against the Chicago Bulls, saying, ''Now, they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers and it's getting old. It's just the way the league is now.'' [...]
[Davis] cannot return until he completes a series of tests to determine if he's fit to play.
''It's a man's game,'' Williams said. ''They're treating these guys like they're 5 years old. He desperately wanted to come (to Chicago), but he couldn't make it.'' [...]
Asked what he doesn't like about the concussion policy, he said, ''I'm not saying I don't like it. We've got to protect the players, but I think the players should have more say-so in how they feel. I'm sure I had four or five concussions when I played, and it didn't bother me. The NBA is doing what's necessary to protect the players, but this is not the NFL. You don't get hit in the head that much. I understand it. But as a coach, I'm a baby about it. I want my guys ready to play.''
Protestations aside, it's pretty clear that Williams doesn't like the NBA's concussion policy. Instead of realizing that it takes time for players to recover from the injury, and that they can be mildly functional even as the brain needs time to heal, Williams thinks guys should play as soon as they think they're able to. This opinion is quite different from what neurologists know to be true about concussions, and what the NBA stipulated because of those recommendations.
As Williams says, though, he's a basketball coach and wants a full roster as soon as possible. However, what's truly upsetting here is that he turns the concussion argument into an issue of manliness rather than the medical discussion it should be. Criticizing the policy because it forces players to be unmanly turns a discussion of facts into something far different, an argument dependent on vague notions of how a basketball player should act. But those social constructs have always changed with time.
Plus, if Williams read GQ, he'd know that pink is an essential color in any modern man's wardrobe.
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