The Miami Heat will be facing he Indiana Pacers tonight with Paul George very likely in the lineup thanks to his being cleared by independent physicians before the weekend began. But the big controversy isn’t that George is going to be playing in Game 3, it’s that he was allowed to return to Game 2 despite having blacked out and suffered a concussion.
This has raised the question of whether or not independent doctors should be allowed on the bench for the purpose of being a neutral voice in the decision of ruling a player out or keeping him in. The NFL has something like this in place and boxing has a completely neural entity there to make a final call. So should they be allowed in basketball?
I’ve always felt that making decisions about whether a player should continue puts a team physician in a difficult spot. It’s not as if in boxing a manager or corner man makes that call (except to throw in the towel). Plus, in some cases, a visiting player has to rely on the diagnosis of the home team’s doctor. The concussion protocol is an admirable step by the NBA when it comes to player safety. But there has to be something a bit more uniform that giving a team doctor the immediate say during games.
It’s a truly touchy subject as players will be against it because it’s one giant log they won’t be able to hurdle should they be in a situation like George’s. Then again, how much value are players putting on their long term health when they’re ‘in the moment’ as we’re seeing the effects across all sports of athletic gods we once worshiped being reduced to drooling piles of cranial mush thanks to the punishment the suffered.