Pacers Donald Sloan knows all about Paul George’s leg injury
INDIANAPOLIS – The view of this injury was much different from a similar one that occurred about five years ago.
This time when it came to a compound fracture, Donald Sloan saw it unfold after the fact on Friday evening.
“We were out eating and (Pacers guard) George Hill had just left the restaurant and we had just gotten to the car and we’re watching it live on an I Phone,” said Sloan of Team USA’s Blue and White Scrimmage in Las Vegas, which teammate Paul George was playing in. “Then one of my friends said ‘Somebody’s Hurt.'”
“I was like ‘Oh, let me see’. They wouldn’t show who was on the court and then I go to Twitter and it said ‘Oh no, not Paul’ and I’m like ‘Oh Man.’ I didn’t know what happened, but I knew he was the one that was hurt.”
Once he saw just how he was, a piece of Sloan’s past immediately came back to him.
“I had a best friend in college,” explained Sloan. “He had a similar injury.”
That was Derrick Roland, a forward with Sloan at Texas A&M. Like George, he suffered a compound leg fracture in late December of 2009 at a game at Washington.
“When I’d seen what happened, it was just like it happened yesterday,” said Sloan of the Roland injury-and it’s not exactly a memory Sloan wanted repeated.
George's gruesome break of his tibia and fibula is one of the worst in a generation of professional basketball and has caused an overwhelming amount of get well wishes across the social media world.
It wasn't that much of an uproar when it happened to Roland in 2009, but that didn't make it any less painful for Sloan. After his Aggie teammate's break, Sloan had to be helped by two people to reach the team huddle on their bench.
"I actually started crying on the court when that happened," said Sloan of Roland's compound fracture. "To see that it happened to PG, my mood went from happy to be back here, out to dinner with teammates and then it was a complete 180.
"It's almost like you think the person died or something with the type of injury it was. He'll be fine, but it's just the way that everyone is taking it that's saddened by it."
Sloan said that he's already reached out to George to offer his support as he begins a long journey back to the court following the leg break. At the same time, Sloan tries to remember the way he dealt with Roland's injury as he now deals with another one with George.
In many ways for the guard, it takes a period of adjustment to get things back to where they were before the injury.
"It was hard because every time I saw him, I was actually on the court and seeing exactly what happened," said Sloan of Roland's injury. "He wasn't around for a while and then when he came back, the memories came back. But with him in the locker room smiling and having a good time, it kinda made it a little easier.
"So I'm sure Paul is going to comeback with high spirits, high hopes. With the A1 care that we have, I'm sure it will be a speedy recovery."
While support for George is paramount over the next few months, Sloan does acknowledge the team will have a lot of work to do to pick up what's lost with both Paul. Last season George led the Pacers with 21.7 points a game while also collecting 6.8 rebounds per contest while serving also as an important locker room leaders.
Sloan says there's no one player who can replace George, who most likely will miss the entire 2014-2015 season with the injury.
"Not just on the court, like I was saying, he's the one who held the locker room together as long as it was together," said Sloan. "You're losing the face of the team, great athlete, but your losing that glue guy in the locker room as well."
But there is some good news. Roland ended up playing pickup basketball eight months later and eventually went on to compete professionally internationally. Sloan hopes this part of this gruesome history will repeat itself in a yellow uniform instead of maroon.