Last July at the Tokyo Olympics, veteran Australian center Aron Baynes fell in the bathroom at Saitama Super Arena and suffered a nightmarish injury. He missed almost all of the Boomers’ bronze-medal run, and he was later ruled out for the 2021-22 NBA season.
Little has been known about the fall, the ensuing neck injury and the treatment Baynes received, but, in an interview with ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Baynes said that he had debilitating nerve pain. He needed assistance to move his limbs, and he couldn’t stand until his 11th day in the hospital.
It is a scary story. In the middle of it, though, there is a delightful anecdote. It involves Aussie guards Matthew Dellavedova and Nathan Sobey.
The [day after the bronze-medal game], teammates Dellavedova and Nathan Sobey came to the hospital to bring Baynes his medal. He was better. The swelling on his spine had decreased and he was getting stronger with therapy. The hospital allowed him to see the team doctor and the athletic trainer for 15 minutes a day. Dellavedova and Sobey had posed as doctors to get past security.
“It was a pretty emotional visit, you know?” Dellavedova says. “It had been such a long journey for us to get there and he was such a big part of the program. There were a few tears. I don’t want to get in trouble with the Japanese officials, but I’m glad we were able to get in there.”
Baynes jokes: “Delly got an online degree.”
Remember, if your friends won’t pretend to be doctors in order to hand-deliver you an Olympic medal in a Japanese hospital, they aren’t real friends.