- New Zealand Breakers forward Akil Mitchell suffered a horrific eye injury
- His left eyeball popped out of its socket as he challenged for a rebound
- Players, referees and courtside fans were visibly upset by the awful sight
- Mitchell tweeted that he was doing fine and was able to see after the match
New Zealand Breakers forward Akil Mitchell has revealed he could still see out of his eye after it popped out of his socket during an NBL game.
The American import collapsed on the court in the final quarter on Thursday after contesting a rebound with Taipans centre Nnanna Egwu resulted in his left eyeball coming out of its socket.
Mitchell told the Herald 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.’
The game, which the Breakers lost 94-81, was halted for 15 minutes and Mitchell was helped from the court and taken to hospital with some of his teammates visibly upset.
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New Zealand Breakers forward Akil Mitchell has revealed he could still see out of his eye after it popped out of his socket during an NBL game
New Zealand Breakers forward Akil Mitchell has laughed off his freak injury in which his eyeball popped out of its socket by posting to Twitter
He said he felt ‘truly blessed’ the injury was not more serious. Mitchell is likely to be fit to play in the Breakers’ next match, though he will wear safety glasses in future.
‘Initially it just felt like I got poked in the eye and I thought `this is going to be a bad one’,’ he told a news conference Friday. ‘Then I felt my eye out of the socket. That’s when I think I started to freak out a little bit.
‘Of course there was pain and a sort of surreal perspective along with it. I opened my eye and I’m looking up and I can see everything. I touched it and immediately wanted to push it back in and I thought `that’s a bad idea’.
‘I could still see, still move it and I never lost vision. It never went blurry, thank God, and it’s doing much better today.’
He was treated and discharged with Breakers general manger Dillon Boucher saying early reports were that the injury isn’t as serious as first thought.
Mitchell made light of the injury in a tweet which began with an image of two eyes ‘.. too soon? Lol thanks for all the love, well wishes, and prayers tonight. I’m home and seeing fine, more tests tomorrow’.
The NBL said Mitchell’s eyeball had been relocated into the eye socket and any long term impact was yet to be determined.
Breakers assistant coach Mike Fitchett said the league gave the side the option of postponing the match but the players, urged on by Mitchell, chose to play on.
‘Akil said to Pauly [coach Paul Henare] make sure we win the rebound battle.
‘Obviously it’s very difficult when you see something like that to carry on but the players were happy for us to carry on,’ he said.
Mitchell said ‘Icould still see, still move it and I never lost vision. It never went blurry, thank God, and it’s doing much better today’
Basketball player Akil Mitchell (on the floor) has suffered a horrific eye injury in the middle of a game, leaving his teammates recoiling in horror
Mitchell was easily the Auckland team’s best performer before the injury with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Breakers struggled to lift after his exit, with an eight-point deficit ballooning out to 15, from which they never recovered.
They are now third on the league table while Cairns are seventh.
The Breakers are away to Sydney on Sunday while Cairns host last-placed Brisbane on the same day.
Mitchell was left writhing in agony after his left eyeball was poked out of its socket as he challenged Cairns Taipans centre Nnanna Egwu for a rebound.
Extremely graphic footage shows Mitchell falling to the ground with his eye protruding from its socket, as teammates and opponents rush to help him.
The awful injury is too much for some to bear, with players, referees and courtside fans visibly upset by the sight.
Physios ran to Mitchell’s aid and treated him for around 15 minutes before placing a towel over his head and escorting him from the court.
As the former University of Virginia player was being cared for, his Breakers teammates huddled in prayer.
He was eventually taken from the North Shore Events Centre, in Auckland, to hospital by ambulance.
Extremely graphic footage shows Mitchell falling to the ground with his eye protruding from its socket, as teammates and opponents rush to help him
The awful injury is too much for some to bear, with players, referees and courtside fans visibly upset by the sight
Remarkably, Mitchell tweeted a few hours after the accident to say he was doing fine.
Making light of the horror injury, he began his tweet with an emoji of two eyes, adding: ‘Too soon? Lol. Thanks for all the love, well wishes, and prayers tonight. I’m home and seeing fine, more tests tomorrow.’
His team went on to lose 94-81 in the National Basketball League (NBL) match on Thursday night.
The Breakers were given the option of postponing the match, but Mitchell urged them to continue.
Breakers assistant coach Mike Fitchett said: ‘Akil said to Pauly (coach Paul Henare) ‘make sure we win the rebound battle’.
‘Obviously it’s very difficult when you see something like that to carry on but the players were happy for us to carry on.’
Taipans captain Cameron Gliddon sent his best wishes to Mitchell.
‘It was really hard to see a player go down like that, it’s hard to watch and we all send our thoughts to Akil,’ he said.
The NBL tweeted: ‘Our thoughts are with Akil Mitchell following a terrible eye injury.’