DENVER — Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker was released from a Denver hospital late Friday night and cleared to fly back with the team on Saturday after being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.
Walker had been stretchered off the court following a scary collision with teammate Semi Ojeleye during Friday’s game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. He will be re-evaluated on Saturday in Boston.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Friday’s game that initial scans on Walker returned encouraging results and the team was hopeful that Walker avoided a more serious neck injury.
Walker had his head down as he chased a rebound and hit Ojeleye’s stomach as the forward started running the opposite way up the court. Walker immediately crumpled to the ground and rolled onto his left side as trainers rushed to check on him.
Stevens said Walker’s disorientation was concerning while Jaylen Brown noted, "The look in [Walker’s] eyes made everybody a little bit uneasy.” Stevens visited Walker in an ambulance at halftime where Walker deemed himself “fine" and Stevens said he appeared in “decent spirits.”
Kemba Walker was taken off the court in a stretcher after this play pic.twitter.com/i1jcJeoDwB— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 23, 2019
The game was delayed more than six minutes as medical personnel immobilized Walker, moved him to a stretcher, and took him from the court. Concerned Celtics teammates gathered around Walker as he was being tended to and the Pepsi Center went eerily quiet.
The Celtics announced in the third quarter that Walker had been diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms and was being transported to the hospital for further evaluation.
The team said further updates would be provided as appropriate.
NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper reported that Walker’s eyes were open and he was blinking as he was wheeled off the court and trainers could be seen talking to Walker throughout the process of being immobilized.
And ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that early indications are that Walker did not suffer a significant injury in the collision.
Early indications are that Boston’s Kemba Walker did not suffer a significant injury in collision tonight, league source tells ESPN. Team has diagnosed him with concussion-like symptoms. https://t.co/Qu2LMTDwaW— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 23, 2019
As paramedics wheeled a stretcher onto the court, an emotional Ojeleye could be seen leading teammates, including Grant Williams, Enes Kanter, Jaylen Brown, and Carsen Edwards, in prayer next to Walker.
It was just over two years ago that Ojeleye did the same after teammate Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury in Boston’s 2017-18 opener in Cleveland.
Walker had been playing at an All-Star level this season, averaging 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over 33.8 minutes per game. He was a big part of Boston’s 11-3 start that has them near the top of the Eastern Conference over the first five weeks of the season.
Ojeleye filled Walker’s void on the first unit to start the second half.
After the game, Brad Stevens provided an update on Walker's condition saying that the exams Walker went through at halftime "yielded good results."
"All of the scans, the stuff he went through at halftime, yielded good results, but we haven't heard anything since," Stevens said. "I saw him in the ambulance at halftime that took him to the hospital. He had his wherewithal and [was] in pretty decent spirits."
And Jaylen Brown weighed in on Kemba's injury and touched on his own experience with a scary injury in a postgame interview.
"Obviously, our thoughts are with him, make sure his health is prioritized and stuff like that," Brown said. "I've been through a similar injury that gives everybody a little bit of a scare. To support is what's important. Yeah, our prayers and our energy are definitely with him today."
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.