By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
After an injury setback nearly leaving him paralyzed paired with “the loneliest time in my life”, Aron Baynes hopes to return to the NBA. The Australian big man discussed his experience in a Tokyo hospital with Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
“The loneliest time in my life was laying in that hospital, going in and out of consciousness, going over my life plan and my goals and just crying,” he recalled the scary situation, “My uncle Don had an accident 10 years ago. He’s a quadriplegic. My family’s had first-hand experience with this going down. I was so scared.”
Baynes, 35, suffered a severe neck injury during the Olympic Games preliminary round fixture opposite Italy, as reported. He was later ruled out for the remainder of the tournament. The Australian national team did not share further details regarding the injury though. Ten days later, the Aussies captured the bronze medals.
Baynes himself was found by a staff member on the floor near the bathroom with blood on his uniform during the game against Italy, as noted in the report. He was unable to walk under his own power and hurt his head again, a few days after slipping and landing on his head and neck during the Olympics opener versus Nigeria. Rushed to a Japanese hospital, besides worrying he might be paralyzed, he went through a difficult time communicating with doctors and nurses.
“He sent me a picture of the holes in his arm and said the doctor was checking him out and the next thing I know he’s in a hospital bed and his texts were panicked,” his longtime agent Daniel Moldovan told ESPN, “No one could get us any answers.”
The local doctors believed he would require surgery, but he eventually opted for physical therapy upon consultation from an Australian neurosurgeon familiar with Baynes.
The former Washington State forward/center made enough progress in Japan to stand up on his own and was cleared to continue treatment in Australia. He had to be strapped down and anesthetized for the eight-hour flight. Several months forward, he was finally able to play some basketball for the first time since the Olympics.
“If you saw me now, you wouldn’t know anything happened,” he stated, “There’s been a lot of progress in the last six months.”
His goal is to return to the NBA for the 2022-23 season.
“It looks so much more fun now. That’s how I grew up playing and I really want to get back to it,” he said commenting on the way NBA referees are calling the games this year, “I’ve got the want to get there and every single day I expect a lot out of everyone around me. I don’t know what the path will look like, but I’m going to give it one hell of a crack.”