Basketball players suffer an array of injuries on the hardwood ranging from bumps, bruises, pulled muscles and even broken bones. But one player’s injury was more gruesome than all those combined when his eyeball popped out of its socket during a game.
Playing for the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian NBL, American-born Akil Mitchell fell to the floor after a player from the opposing team bopped him in the head. That slap presented just enough force to knock Mitchell’s eye right out of his head.
During the ambulance trip to the hospital, Mitchell’s eyeball slipped right back into place leaving the player blinking in shock but otherwise uninjured.
“My eye was out of my head — it was a little painful,” Mitchell said in an interview the next day, according to CNN.
The video is shocking. It shows Mitchell hitting the deck and as he gets to his knees his eye is seen out of its socket. In fact, one of his teammates runs away from the scene clearly distressed by the injury.
Even with the eye out of place, Mitchell reported that he could still see, and it felt as if someone had poked him in the eye.
“I don’t know if it was the most painful thing I’ve ever felt,” he said, “but it was just weird. Just a weird sensation, a weird feeling.”
With the eye back in place one he arrived at the hospital, emergency room doctors were skeptical that the whole incident even happened. Mitchell notes that doctors asked for video of the incident to prove that it occurred.
“The specialist on call — I don’t think he believed me. He was asking to see video,” Mitchell said the next day. “He didn’t see any damage and he was just trying to validate that it had come out of place. Everybody there was like ‘yes, it came out.’”
Doctors say they aren’t sure if there will be any long-term damage.
Mitchell has since said he’s taken a lot of ribbing from his teammates over the eye-popping event, including talk of goggles and lots of jokes. Mitchell himself even put a pair of googly eye emojis on his Facebook page to tell fans and friends that he is OK.
“The best healing for me is laughing,” Mitchell said.
Unfortunately, while he was having his strange injury treated his team went on to lose their game 81-94 to the Cairns Taipans.
“I’m not happy with the way it ended,” Mitchell insisted. “I really wish they had won, and they’ll be hearing about it for sure. But there was no need to stop for me.”
This isn’t the first time a basketball player had his eye knocked out of his head on the court. Back in 2013 Villanova player Allan Ray had his eye poked out of its socket, when his eye lid pushed behind his eye during a game. Ray returned to the court a week later. Medical professionals say that if a distended eyeball is quickly pushed back into its place, long-term damage is less likely. But the longer an eye is left out of place the greater possibility of permanent damage.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.