A flood of support and prayers came pouring in on Wednesday after news broke that former Maverick Shawn Bradley had been paralyzed after a tragic bicycling accident in January.
Bradley played nine of his 12 NBA seasons with the Mavericks before retiring in 2005. The 7-6 center remains No. 2 on the franchise’s all-time blocked-shots list with 1,250, trailing only Dirk Nowitzki (1,281).
“Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Shawn Bradley,” coach Rick Carlisle said before the Mavericks played the Clippers Wednesday night. “That news obviously broke in recent hours and I know that all of Mavericks’ nation feels the same sentiments. We hope that he does better. Just very tragic news to hear. So thoughts and prayers to him and his family.”
Bradley was the No. 2 overall draft pick for Philadelphia in 1993. He posted some incredible numbers during his career, including a 22-point, 22-rebound, 13-blocked shot triple-double – off the bench near the end of the 1997-98 season with the Mavericks.
By then, Bradley had become a cornerstone in coach/general manager Don Nelson’s vision to rebuild the Mavericks.
Bradley, via the Mavericks, released a statement about his tragic biking accident, which occurred just a block from his home in St. George, Utah, when a vehicle struck him from behind.
The statement said, in part: “The accident caused a traumatic spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. After undergoing neck fusion surgery, Bradley has spent the last eight weeks hospitalized and undergoing rehabilitation.”
The statement continued: “His strong sense of faith is being tested as he participates in grueling physical therapy and learns how to cope with the challenges of paraplegia. Doctors have advised him that his road to recovery will be both long and arduous, perhaps an even more difficult physical challenge than playing professional basketball.”
Bradley is a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and spent two years performing missionary work in Australia before he was drafted to the NBA.
The statement said that Bradley’s wife, Carrie, and a team of rehab specialists and family members and friends have kept Bradley in good spirits.
Bradley has always been a giving person, which is part of the reason that support came from throughout the NBA on Wednesday. In keeping with his passion for helping people, he plans to use this accident as a platform to bring greater public awareness to the importance of bicycle safety.
The NBA had another cycling accident in October when longtime Houston Rockets’ scout B.J. Johnson died from injuries sustained in a biking mishap.
Said owner Mark Cuban: “We are saddened to hear of Shawn’s accident. Shawn has always been incredibly determined and shown a fighting spirit. We wish him nothing but the best in his recovery. He will always be a part of our Mavs’ family.”
During the Mavericks’ pregame show on Fox Sports Southwest, former teammates of Bradley Cedric Ceballos and Devin Harris both expressed their sympathies.
“Always a great teammate, always a great family member of the NBA,” said Ceballos. “This hits hard. I’m a bike rider. I use that to work out, too. It’s really a tough situation. I hope Shawn really recovers from this.”
Said Harris, whose rookie season with the Mavericks was Bradley’s last: “One of the nicest guys out there. You talk about a gentle giant, Shawn Bradley comes to mind. When I was a rookie, he kind of took me under his wing, showed me the ins and outs and how to get involved in the community. He’s the type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back.
“You hate to see something like this, but you know he’s going to fight through it. He has that kind of spirit.”
Bradley also put up some big numbers. He had six triple-doubles in his career and had a league-best 228 blocked shots in 2000-01.
Bradley asked that the Mavericks convey his deep appreciation for the outpouring of well-wishes and prayers he has received. That support has energized his recovery and bolstered his confidence that he will manage the long process ahead successfully.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Shawn’s injury and our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “In his eight-plus seasons in Dallas, Shawn demonstrated all of the qualities you want in a person representing your organization.
“He’s always exhibited unwavering grit and determination and we are thinking of him at this difficult time. He’s a Maverick for life.”
Finney-Smith welcomes new addition: The Mavericks were without forward Dorian Finney-Smith on Wednesday against the Clippers after he welcomed a new son into the world.
“Early, early, early (Wednesday) morning, his family celebrated the birth of a child – Aysen Finney-Smith, a boy,” Carlisle said. “So he’s not available tonight, but we expect that he will join us on this trip to Portland.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. got the start in place of Finney-Smith.