Mbenga to be re-evaluated Tuesday
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Former NBA journeyman Grant Long is in Los Angeles this week working as the Oklahoma City Thunder's television color analyst and a member of the Los Angeles Lakers was at the team's practice facility Monday wearing protective goggles that looked a lot like the ones that Long was famous for wearing during his playing days.
Lakers backup center D.J. Mbenga returned to the team Monday wearing the orange-tinted eyewear after missing Sunday's Game 1 victory while recovering from emergency laser surgery to repair a retinal hole on Saturday.
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Mbenga said he was poked in the eye by a teammate and was experiencing double vision before going to the hospital.
"I just felt something and I went down on the floor," Mbenga said after practice, holding his goggles in his hands. "I tried to stand up myself and walk from there to the locker room and it was kind of bad because I really didn't have my balance so I had to go to the hospital right away."
It was his second visit to seek medical attention in as many days after leaving practice Friday to consult with a neurologist because of an inadvertent elbow that struck his head near his temple.
The sixth-year center was cleared of a concussion by the neurologist Friday. When he went back to the hospital Saturday after the eye poke, he was concerned about another brain-related injury, not realizing he had sustained the retinal hole.
"All day Sunday I needed to stay in bed," Mbenga said. "It was really, really bad."
The eye injury prevented Mbenga from being able to even watch the Lakers game because the doctor did not want the 7-footer's eyes to be darting around and trying to follow any sudden movement.
"It was tough because I had to ask my assistant every [play], 'What's going on over there?,'" Mbenga said. "I was texting my guys, my teammates. I was texting them before the game, texting at halftime, text at the end. It was hard."
Mbenga, who averaged 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game during the regular season, will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
"My vision's better and I have to [wear the goggles] for the rest of the season," Mbenga said. "I don't know if I'm going to need them, but I'm just going to wear them."
Kobe Bryant, known for wearing an assortment of sunglasses to interviews and appearances laughed when asked about Mbenga's new look.
"They're nice," Bryant said with a smile.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.