Head injuries are no laughing matter.
Unless, apparently, the person injured is Lakers big man Anthony Davis.
Then it’s hilarious — at least that’s the case judging by the reactions of multiple TV commentators in the aftermath of Davis taking an elbow to the head and needing a wheelchair to get back to the locker room during the Lakers’ 121-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night in San Francisco.
“NBA on TNT” analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t stop laughing, apparently at Davis’ expense, while discussing the game on the network’s postgame show.
“Shaq is over there crumpling up paper, that’s why I’m laughing,” Barkley said, with the implication seeming to be that the oft-injured Davis is made of paper.
Fellow analyst Kenny Smith may have joined the antics as well, with Barkley indicating that Smith was imitating the use of a wheelchair with his own chair. Smith said he was merely adjusting his seat.
Barkley has ridiculed Davis for being injury prone in the past.
“Yeah, I called him, ‘Street Clothes.’ I mean, he’s been hurt more than he has played,” Barkley told The Times’ Broderick Turner in October. “I mean, I don’t know if he’s ever played 82 games.”
Over on ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday morning, host Stephen A. Smith appeared to mock Davis for possibly suffering a concussion during a basketball game.
“Concussion? Concussion?” Smith said incredulously. “ I thought the NFL season was over.”
He then made no effort to hide his amusement at Davis being unable to walk on his own after sustaining the injury.
“A wheelchair? A wheelchair?” Smith said with the same incredulous tone. “Really? That’s where we are?”
Smith did take a second to note (albeit with a smirk on his face) that he hopes Davis is OK. Then the roast continued.
“We got to stop! We got to stop it, man! It’s the playoffs, man!” Smith shouted to the apparent amusement of co-host Jay Williams. “I mean, was he running over the middle and get hit by Ronnie Lott or something? Did I miss something? … I mean, did he get hit by Aaron Donald? Did I miss something?”
When reminded that concussions are serious, Smith toned it down for a second or two.
“Hold on. No one is saying a concussion isn’t serious,” he said quietly, before launching back into his smirky shout.
“We’re saying we found it hard to believe that a concussion actually happened on that play that we were watching! Oh, my Lord!”
Hours later, Smith tweeted:
“I was in no way minimizing the seriousness of a concussion. I was questioning whether Anthony Davis really had one, considering the play I saw & other hits I’ve seen him absorb. But, bottom line, it was wrong for me to do. Period! My bad.”
TNT’s Chris Haynes reported after the game that Davis “appears to have avoided a concussion.” The Lakers have given no official report on Davis but coach Darvin Ham said following the game, “He seems to be doing really good already.”
So that all sounds like good news. But who knows what kind of short- and long-term effects it will have on Davis. And, of course, his status for Friday’s Game 6 and beyond is also unclear.
Head injuries need to be taken seriously — even if some guys on TV don’t seem to think so.
This story originally appeared on LA Times