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Marquis Daniels' Injury Much Bigger than Basketball

On Sunday morning, Marquis Daniels took to his Twitter account and offered a simple tweet consisting of just seven characters: #prayer

Later that day, he would need all the prayers he could get.

As Daniels made his move to drive baseline against Gilbert Arenas early in the second quarter, the whistle was blown. Foul. They'll take this one out of bounds.

Hold on, ‘Quis is still down. Come on Quis, get up. Get up. But nothing - he lay there motionless, unable to move.

Clearly, this was serious.

"Not again," Arenas thought.

Back in high school he was on the other end of a serious injury - he accidently had poked his opponent in the eye, seriously damaging it. But what had he done this time? There was no real foul there.

"[Daniels] turned in face and tried to sweep through and I think his head hit my chest and from there he just collapsed," Arenas said.

"I heard him hit the floor hard and I thought he probably had a little concussion. I know Kevin Garnett said, ‘Did he hit your knee?' and I said, ‘I don't think so.'"

He hadn't. Daniels' head snapped back on Arenas' chest, paralyzing him instantly.

"They said he has a neck problem so sometimes when his neck goes wrong he gets paralyzed for a little bit."

As Celtics players, coaches, and paramedics huddled around Daniels, the Garden grew eerily quiet.

This was no longer about basketball; this was about the life of a father, husband, son, friend, teammate, and brother. And as far as the C's were concerned, their brother was down.

"Yeah, I knew it [was serious] immediately" Head Coach Doc Rivers said. "It was no doubt. Right when he went down I was already out on the floor.  I think, I don't know, Gilbert or someone was standing near him and I just told him, ‘Don't touch him.'  Because I - you could see it was not good."

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett were also watching from the bench at the time of the injury. Like Doc, they were up off the bench trying to will their brother up with words of encouragement. It would take more than words though.

"Honestly I didn't really know what was up," Pierce said. "You know, obviously when you see a guy lay down there for a sense of time you get worried and you pray and hope that he's alright."

Many members of the Celtics and even some Magic took a knee to pray for Daniels, now being strapped into a stretcher.

"I was trying to process what just happened, and when I saw the way he hit the ground it was I just started thinking about any time I watched a football game, and I saw a guy on the ground, how their body just kind of didn't respond to anything," Allen said. "It looked like he got hit in the wrong spot where whatever happened to his body he just couldn't move. And when I saw his face, it was the scariest feeling because it was almost like he couldn't do anything."

With his body now stabilized, he couldn't do much. But just before he was rolled away to the ambulance after roughly six minutes, Daniels was able to get one thumb up in the air - a glimmer of hope that he would be ok.

There would be no following him to the ambulance though. Coaches and players were forced to try to put it behind them and finish the game, not knowing what was to come next for their brother.

"It's the risk we always run, but for that moment it just seemed like, ‘let me go to the hospital and let me do what I need to do to see that he's all right,' because basketball is the last thing on my mind," Allen admitted.

This isn't Daniels' first injury like this, but it's definitely the worst of them. . He's dealt with spinal issues in the past and was concussed on a similar looking play last postseason against the Magic, but was able to walk off the court then.

With the uncertainty of Daniels' health looming over their head, the C's did something that many other teams might find hard to do - overcome. Instead of playing scared, they rallied in his absence, and as Pierce said, took on a "let's do this for ‘Quis" mentality. Trailing at the time of the injury, they held a three-point lead at the half.

"I don't actually know how our players kind of got back their senses that quickly," Rivers said. "Because they all knew it [was serious] too."

The good news was that Daniels would be ok. Reports were that he was able to move and talk to doctors. The players on the team found that out at halftime, and were able to close out the game before focusing their thoughts on him again.

"Well this is a very close knit team," Pierce said. "I mean, this is one of the closer teams, it kind of reminds me of the team in '08. It's like when Marquis goes down it's like your brother, when Delonte [West] goes down it's like your brother. If you ever have a family member and something ever happens to them you don't feel right.

"And we're around each other so much; plane, bus, we even go to each other's houses so it's like we created this bond with one another and when something bad happens to him we all feel for him but the rest of us try and rally together and that's what you kind of saw in those two injuries."

While the Celtics were able to rally around Daniels and the good news they got, some of his other friends weren't lucky enough to get the details during the game.

Daniels is from Orlando, Florida, so he has some ties with members of the Magic. In fact, Dwight Howard and Quentin Richardson were at Daniels' birthday party in Boston just last month.

Neither one of them had heard any news updates during the game in regards to Daniels' well being, and were forced to play the game not knowing.

"[My mind] was still on the game but I kind of lost some fire just watching him on the ground," Howard said. "He wasn't moving. I didn't know what to think. I was very sad and I was very hurt to see him on the ground like that. Nobody wants to see their friend or anybody lain out on the ground like that."

Richardson wasn't given an update on Daniels until well after the game had ended, and had yet to have even seen the play.

"As soon as it happened I saw that it was that severe that they were bringing stretchers and stuff, I got down on one knee and prayed for him," Richardson said.

By now, many are aware that the diagnosis is a bruised spinal cord, which will put Daniels on the shelf indefinitely. As far as a return to basketball, 1-2 months is the "best case" scenario according to Ainge after the game.

Daniels is extremely fortunate to eventually be able to make a full recovery, but you can bet that missing time on the court will bother him.

When Ainge went to visit Daniels at the hospital Sunday, Daniels had only one thing on his mind.

"He just wanted to know the score of the game."

As Daniels would tweet, "#beleedat."

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