James Harden suffered perhaps the hardest elbow of the weekend on Sunday -- no small task considering Jon Jones and the UFC held an event on Saturday night -- when he caught in the crossfire of a Metta World Peace celebration during the double-overtime game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden was initially cleared to return to the game by the Thunder doctors, but that diagnosis was overruled when it was determined he was suffering from the effects of a concussion. Now, as Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman explains, it could be awhile until Harden is able to rejoin his teammates.
Under the NBA's newly instituted concussion policy, Harden can return to the court only after passing a rigorous evaluation process that could take several days. Once he's considered free of concussion symptoms, Harden must make it through increasing stages of exertion -- from riding a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to individual basketball skills -- while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each stage.
If Harden passes each test the team then has to consult with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the director of the NBA's concussion program, to determine when Harden can return. The NBA's concussion policy went into effect at the start of training camps this season.
There's no telling how long it will take Harden to recover, considering some players have returned just a few days after the initial impact while it takes others months to show that they're free of the symptoms. Hopefully Harden is a member of the former group rather than the latter.