NZ Herald Focus logo

Basketball: Breakers Akil Mitchell recalls horror eye injury

By Kris Shannon

Akil Mitchell will never watch the incident that made him an unwitting celebrity.

The American who came to New Zealand to pull down rebounds for the Breakers received last night a horrifying example of what can go wrong when battling for those boards.

And so did his teammates. And the fans sitting in the front row. And anyone watching on television at home or morbidly curious enough to seek out the subsequent, sickening footage.

Not Mitchell, though. With his left eye returned to its rightful place, with his vision miraculously unimpaired and his spirits remarkably high, he can discuss in graphic terms what transpired when he reached to his face and felt something terribly awry.

But, having experienced it first-hand, a second look won't be warranted.

Video

"[Teammate] Paul [Carter] really wanted me to see it and I was like, 'I can't do it'," Mitchell said today. "It kind of makes my eye throb a little just thinking about it, so I don't know if I'll ever be able to watch it."

Watching it is one thing but joking about it - as became increasingly evident during an engaging 15 minutes with an eager press pack - was another matter. After last night posting on Twitter a pairs of eyes and asking his followers if it was "too soon?", Mitchell turned today's media session into a comedy routine.

He revealed he could still see from the eye after it had popped out of his socket, saying the sensation was akin to "a chameleon, how they can see different directions".

Asked about providing his teammates a pep talk before they take on Sydney in his absence on Sunday, Mitchell replied: "No clue what I'm going to say - it's not like I'm dead or going to be a ghost and come back and haunt them if they don't win."

And was his newfound fame worth the ordeal? "If someone told me I could (suffer the injury and) get more Twitter followers or delete my Twitter, I'd delete my Twitter."

Laughing, Mitchell explained, was helping him heal, in addition to reassuring friends, family and well-wishers that the harrowing incident looked significantly worse than it was.

But the humour also served to disguise how serious the injury could have been. From the moment the finger of Cairns' Nnanna Egwu dislodged Mitchell's eye to the instant, in the back of an ambulance heading for Auckland Hospital, it slipped unassisted back into the socket, his imagination ran wild with potential long-term ramification.

Instead, given Mitchell's eye was merely bruised and scratched, with a headache for now the only apparent consequence, the 24-year-old could be back on the basketball court as early as next week.

"I don't like to use the word luck - I think blessed is a better word," Mitchell said. "As serious as the injury could have been, for everything to be OK and for me to be able to see you guys and joke about it is something I can only describe as a miracle."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 30 Apr 2017 21:28:58 Processing Time: 704ms