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DerMarr Johnson Seriously Injured in Crash

Shareef Abdur-Rahim described his teammate as “lucky” and “blessed”. Others used the words “amazing” and “fortunate” to describe the condition of DerMarr Johnson, the Hawks starting shooting guard who was involved in a fiery crash early this morning in Atlanta.

How is a man lucky when his season and possibly his career are over?

Johnson suffered no paralysis from the crash and also apparently escaped any burns from the fire. "A fraction of an inch one way or the other, and the doctor said it would have been very bad," said a clearly shaken Hawks GM Pete Babcock.

Johnson’s condition is currently listed as stable, with a vertebral body fracture, described by Dr. Paul King, neurosurgeon at Atlanta Medical Center, as a cervical spine fracture. According to Dr. King, Johnson could be released from the hospital as early as Monday, following surgery scheduled for Friday afternoon.

Also, other accounts of the crash describe Johnson and two others involved in the crash being helped by a woman who was driving by the scene and saw the men lying in or near the car. She helped them to safety and then to a hospital. According to another story, Johnson and the others barely escaped the flame engulfed car before it exploded.

For now, the season appears to be lost for Johnson, who was emerging as, what former Hawks assistant-now current Golden State Head Coach Eric Musselman called him, “a matchup problem on both ends.”

With his injuries being in a tenuous place like the neck, it may be over a year before anyone knows if Johnson can pursue a return to the hardcourt.

Johnson was conscious in the hospital as he acknowledged teammates, coaches, and team officials who visited late in the morning and early afternoon. His mother was due to arrive later in the afternoon. One person stated that Johnson looked “completely overwhelmed” by his condition.

The Hawks will have roster decisions and financial decisions regarding Johnson, as details of his condition become clearer.

Johnson, in his third year as a Hawk, has a team option for a fourth year, which must be picked up by the end of this summer. Johnson’s current condition certainly makes that decision a tough one for the Hawks to consider.

But today, nobody associated with the Hawks was interested in talking about the on-the-court ramifications of today’s events, and understandably so.

Jason Terry, Jermaine O’Neal, Dion Glover, Theo Ratliff and Ira Newble all looked somber as they left the hospital. Shareef stated that Johnson was lucky and blessed to be in his current condition considering he did not suffer paralysis or even perish in the crash.

Shareef also asked that everyone concerned about DerMarr “keep him in your prayers.”

The Atlanta Hawks have set up a get well email address for fans to send their best wishes to DerMarr. The Hawks.com website issued this email address(hawks.fanmail@turner.com). A link is available at: http://www.nba.com/hawks/

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