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Celtics’ Al Horford played with ‘possible concussion’

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics drives against Luke Babbitt #8 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 6, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Correction: This post previously stated Horford would have been ineligible to return if he underwent a concussion evaluation rather than taking his free throws. A player who misses his free throws while being tested for a concussion can return to the game if not diagnosed with a concussion, per a rule change last offseason.

Al Horford took a blow to the head from Kent Bazemore in the second quarter of the Celtics’ win over the Hawks on Monday. Horford attempted his free throws, stayed in the game and played 19 more minutes.

One problem: He might have suffered a concussion.


The concussion policy states:

If a player is suspected of having a concussion, or exhibits the signs or symptoms of concussion, he will be removed from participation and undergo evaluation by the medical staff in a quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.

Nobody suspected Horford of having a concussion?

I actually find that plausible. The impact didn’t seem extraordinary. It’s quite common for players not to experience symptoms until the following day.

But Horford missed nine games with a concussion last season. With him susceptible to another, Boston’s coaches and medical personnel should be more vigilant with him than a typical player.

Again, maybe they were. I wasn’t taken aback by the real-time reaction.

Still, Horford never went to a “quiet, distraction-free environment” for evaluation. Perhaps, an immediate evaluation would have revealed nothing. Delayed symptoms are not uncommon.

But the fact that Horford never underwent that evaluation shows a shortcoming of the NBA’s concussion policy. Maybe those holes are inevitable, but it’s also worth noting that they exist in a hope to patch them.