Dallas Chris Kaman is out with a concussion, one suffered in practice after a hard fall where his head hit the floor.
Kaman doesn’t get to decide when he can come back. Neither do the Mavericks or their team doctors. Under the NBA’s new concussion protocol instituted last year, Kaman has to pass a mental test after a level of physical exertion that shows he is all the way back.
Or, as Kaman sees it, a bunch of crap. That is what he told the Dallas Morning News:
“I got to take it tomorrow,” he said (of the concussion test). “It’s the stupidest test ever. For so many years in the NBA, they never had to do that stuff and now they come up with all that concussion protocol crap. It’s not cool, but it is cool, I guess. It keeps people safe. I just try to do the right things and wait until I can pass the test.”
Why the tests? Well, Kaman’s next statement explains it.
“I’m still having a little headache,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll progress, I’ll take that test, pass it and hopefully be able to play sooner or later. I’m tired of sitting around. I’d rather be playing, but at the same time I understand there’s a proper way to do things medically to keep people safe.”
Players want to play. They will lie to coaches to do so and coaches are happy to be lied to if they get a player back. Team doctors are paid by the team, not the players, so you can decide where their interests lie.
So the NBA set up a system where players take a baseline test before the season then after a concussion need to get back to near that baseline before a league neurologist lets them back on the court. It’s not in the players hands, not in the team’s hands, it’s a decision made by a neutral third party.
Which is how it should be. That’s how you keep players safe.