The Nets have lost “the heart and soul” of their team, coach Kenny Atkinson admitted after Caris LeVert suffered a serious lower right leg injury Monday.
LeVert was hurt while contesting a drive to the basket during the Nets’ game against the Timberwolves.
The gruesome injury, which happened during the closing stages of the second quarter at Target Center, left players from both teams visibly shaken, with the shooting guard stretchered off the court.
The Timberwolves went on to win, 120-113, though Atkinson insisted afterward that the final score did not matter.
“He’s the heart and soul of our program, so a really tough blow, I feel for him,” Atkinson said. “He’s had a fantastic start to the season, he’s obviously made a huge jump. I just know if anybody’s coming back from this, knowing the human, the character, the person, the player — he’ll come back from this.
“A tough, tough blow for the Nets. Our only thoughts are with him, nothing else matters. The game doesn’t matter.
“It’s a devastating blow for us, for him. That’s all I really want to say about this. Our thoughts should be with him and his recovery and I really don’t want to talk about the game or anything else.”
LeVert was traded to Brooklyn after being selected with the 20th pick by the Pacers in the 2016 NBA draft. He is averaging a career-high 18.4 points in his third season in the league.
“It’s not something you want to see, especially in sports, but it’s something you do see and it’s unfortunate,” Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell said after the game. “Our prayers are with Caris and we’re praying for a speedy recovery.
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“That’s our brother. You don’t want to see that for anybody. For us to see our brother go down, that we’re in practice with every day, on flights with every day, it’s devastating to the stomach.
“We can keep our prayers for him and step up and try to build off of it.”
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