Paul George was diagnosed with a concussion Wednesday after seeing a neurologist following a blow to the head in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
George, the Pacers' All-Star forward, must now satisfy all the protocols set forth in the NBA's concussion policy before he can play Game 3 of the series in Miami on Saturday, the Pacers said in a news release.
George took a knee to the back of the head from Dwyane Wade with 6:49 left in the Heat's 87-83 victory on Tuesday night. He told reporters afterward that he briefly blacked out and suffered from blurred vision for the remainder of the game.
Yet George didn't share this information with team trainers who evaluated him in accordance with the NBA's concussion policy and sent him back into the game. When examined by the team's medical staff after the play, George "exhibited no symptoms of a concussion," the team said. "In response to questions from the Pacers' medical staff, he denied dizziness, nausea, and issues with his vision. He was also active and aware of his surroundings."
After making his comments about blacking out and suffering from blurry vision, George was evaluated again -- and again, according to the team, he was asymptomatic.
However, given that George told reporters that he'd blacked out and experienced blurry vision -- two key symptoms of a concussion -- the Pacers made an appointment Wednesday with their consulting neurologist. Based on George's statement that he'd lost consciousness, the neurologit diagnosed George with a concussion, the team said.
“The Indiana Pacers medical team followed the NBA concussion protocol and there was no indication of concussion during the game," said Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, director of the NBA's concussion program. "This case illustrates that concussion evaluation is an ongoing process and manifestations of the injury may not always present immediately.”
Once a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he is not allowed to return to play that day. Thereafter, he is to be held out of all activity until he is symptom-free at rest and has "no appreciable difference" in his cognitive baseline testing scores. He cannot return to play until he is symptom-free at rest and has passed a step-by-step protocol of gradually increased exertion.
George has three days to satisfy those requirements or he will not be allowed to play in Game 3. The NBA's concussion policy, instituted in 2011-12, is summarized here.
According to injury tracking by FiveThirtyEight.com, George's concussion was the 10th in the NBA this season. The NBA has the lowest rate of concussions among the four major North American sports -- one every 149.5 games.
The NBA's concussion protocols are in place to prevent traumatic brain injuries, which became the subject of a proposed $765 million settlement in August 2013 between the NFL and former players who had sued the league.