By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
It was a moment of severe pain, a lot of blood, and the sudden fear that an NBA career might never be the same.
It happened to Jon Brockman back on Sept. 10 as he was participating in a routine offseason workout in Houston. Brockman, a 2005 graduate of Snohomish High School, was preparing for his fourth NBA season when an elastic band he was using for a stretching exercise evidently slipped off his foot and snapped up to his face, striking him in both eyes.
Brockman was rushed to a nearby emergency room and remained hospitalized for three days. He’s still seeing an eye specialists five weeks later, and has yet to join his new Houston teammates for fall training camp. The Rockets opened their preseason schedule Wednesday and begin the regular season Oct. 31.
But according to Brockman’s agent, Greg Lawrence of the Wasserman Group in Los Angeles, Brockman is eventually expected to make a full recovery.
“He was in an unbelievable amount of pain,” Lawrence said by telephone on Thursday. “Everybody who knows Jon knows he can take a good amount of pain. He’s not one to complain about anything. But that was pretty painful and uncomfortable for him.
“I don’t know if he ever completely lost his vision, but it was very blurry. He couldn’t make anything out.”
Brockman, who has not been available for comment since the injury, has regained full vision in his right eye, “but the left eye has been slower to come around,” Lawrence said. “That’s the one (doctors) are waiting on getting the full picture on. But they know there was no structural damage and the retinas are still attached, so everything’s fine. It’s just healing, and there’s really not much they can do to stimulate the healing process.”
The accident caused blood and other fluid to collect behind the eye, “and as that drains out they can see more and more,” Lawrence said. “As the fluid dissipates they can get a clearer picture to make sure there was no nerve damage. But so far everything they’ve been able to see looks good.”
The severity of the injury raised the immediate question of whether Brockman’s pro career was in jeopardy. Even if his eyesight returned, would he face an increased risk in the rough-and-tumble world of NBA basketball?
“I’m not sure I want to speak for Jon,” Lawrence said, “but as someone who cares about him and his family, that (question) pops up. But you also realize that what you’re talking about is something much bigger. Obviously when your vision is in question … the key thing is not to think about basketball, but to think about what needs to be done to make sure his long-term vision is going to be fine.
“He’s a young guy with a lot of basketball ahead of him, but (an incident like this) becomes more about his life and his health. Those are the important things.”
Brockman has been recovering at his Lake Stevens home, but has also made regular trips to Los Angeles to see specialists at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, Lawrence said. Brockman has another appointment scheduled for early next week and could be cleared to rejoin the Rockets immediately, though the doctors might recommend additional time for healing.
“He should be able to continue playing pretty soon,” Lawrence said. “He’s already been cleared for running and (weight) lifting.”
And when Brockman does return to basketball, “the doctors are pretty confident that he can play his game and that he will not be at any greater risk for injury than anybody else,” Lawrence said. “When he’s cleared, he really will be 100 percent.”
Brockman, who played at the University of Washington from 2005-09, spent his first NBA season with Sacramento, then was traded to Milwaukee, where he played two seasons. He was acquired by the Rockets in July with Jon Leuer and Shaun Livingston and a draft pick for Samuel Dalembert and two draft picks.