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Bringing Up Bebe Week 13: Try not to get hurt

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Despite a couple of wins, and some solid play, we are concerned about Lucas Nogueira’s current status.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

One of the overriding concerns on everyone’s mind in a rec league basketball game, beyond even the thought of winning, is simple: do not get injured. It’s a notion slightly outside the bounds of pure competition, but one that never strays far from my mind given the amount of reckless (and supremely uncoordinated) play that is often involved. Turns out random people playing a sport for “fun” can be... clumsy.

In any case, while I don’t want to get all Roy Batty on you here, I’ve seen things — a shoulder dislocated in an attempt to stop a pass, elbows dropped down mercilessly onto faces, even a torn ACL. If injury in professional sports sucks, it is a full on tragedy when it happens in a rec league. There is no safety net there, no fast moving training staff, no dedicated doctors. The injured party has to figure out how to leave the gym, then has to decide on a course of treatment, and then has to explain to everyone they know that they got hurt because some yahoo dove for a loose ball right into their lower extremities, or whatever. My point here is: you are on your own.

I’ve been lucky enough — knock on wood — to largely avoid major injures. I tweaked (strained?) my knee late last year, and that’s bugged me in fits and starts even as I’ve played through it. I feel like it has led to a series of other weird things — a severely cramped calf one time, an oddly sore foot and ankle in the present. (Or it could just be that I barely stretch before playing.) (Or maybe I’m getting old?) (You know what, let’s forget I mentioned this.)

On this front, it is not a good time to gaze across the Raptors roster. Sure, Jared Sullinger returned (hooray!), but Patrick Patterson remains out. And he is joined by DeMarre Carroll and, gulp, Lucas Nogueira. No, this will not do at all. These men are professionals, but still, injuries suck.

Happy

The week began as a good one for Nogueira, though. In the first two games, against first the Nets and then the Knicks, Bebe got the lion’s share of minutes at power forward and centre owing to the absence of Patterson. The talent level of both of these opponents is low but still, to see Bebe put up 10 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in 30 minutes against Brooklyn generates a nice feeling. Against the Knicks his efforts were smaller, but he filled in admirably.

As the mid-season report cards roll in, many have assessed Bebe quite fairly, in and around the B-grade range. There are obvious holes in his game — he can’t play in the post, he is exquisitely soft — but the strengths he does possess are useful. As recently as last year, we wondered if Bebe could fill in for Bismack Biyombo (or even be a day-to-day NBA player) and now here we are. Even with Nogueira dealing with an injury, this has to bring something of a smile to your face.

Not Happy

But still: injuries, man. In the follow-up game against the Nets, Trevor Booker decided to bring an elbow up to Bebe’s head — a most grievous offense. What happened next?

This after Bebe had drilled a three. There is no justice in the world.

The NBA, thankfully, takes its concussion protocol seriously. (Though we may never know the condition of Jonas Valanciunas after his head hit the deck hard late against the Sixers; moving on.) Bebe now has to sit for some time, at least a week, and demonstrate clearly that he is symptom free. For a young man building his rep, this sucks. For a team that needs him, this is a shame. Hopefully by next week, the Not Happy section has moved on to something else.

An aside: that torn ACL I mentioned above actually happened to a teammate of mine and it has derailed the rec league career of one of the better people I’ve ever played with. If you think it’s hard for an NBA player to comeback from this injury, you can imagine how difficult it is for the average person. We just continue to hope.

Level of High Level

Is there a worse injury in sports than the concussion? It happens to the most sensitive (and critical!) part of the body, it is impossible to recover from with any intense/active remedy, and it is semi-unclear as to when it is fully healed. People bounce back from it, but it is an unsettling thing to go through. Time and rest are all that can do it, really, and that sort of waiting game is the worst kind.

Result of High Level: 3 out of 10 — I’ve got to go low this week because we do not yet know the status of Bebe’s health and frankly concussions are no joke. May he recover soon and rejoin the Raptors with his sense of élan in tact.