Clippers’ Serge Ibaka undergoes season-ending back surgery
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 11, 2021
Ibaka had been dealing with a nerve issue in his back since the early parts of the season. He returned at the end of the regular season, but only lasted a few games before his injury flared back up again. Now, the Clippers and Ibaka have elected for surgery, ruling him out for the rest of the postseason.
During his first media availability in months back in May, Ibaka detailed some of what he’d been going through this season and the journey towards a return to the court.
“I’ve been playing with my back pain since the beginning of the season,” Ibaka said after his return on May 14th. “I was playing with my back pain. I didn’t want to find a reason because I don’t like to find reasons so nobody knew, only the team they know about it since the beginning of the season I was playing with my back and taking pills, all kind of stuff. Then after the last game, after the second game coming from the All-Star break, the second game against New Orleans, that’s when I really kind of felt more than usual and I had to shut down. I had to shut down and see what I could do and yeah, so now I’m getting better, I’m getting better and I be working for the last two months very hard to get back and I’m getting better every day. I’m just grateful to be back.
“I actually was not sure if I was going to play tonight. I put in a lot of work in the last couple of days. It has been up, down. It is sometimes hard to sleep at night. I don’t know if you ever have this kind of injury I have. I don’t wish you to have the nerve (injury). You can really do nothing about the nerve. Tonight it wasn’t just about me. Just try.”
Serge Ibaka’s defensive presence and floor-spacing is something the Clippers really miss this postseason. With a team like the Utah Jazz, who have a defensive presence like Rudy Gobert, having Ibaka would open up the floor and create more driving lanes for the Clippers ball handlers. Even when he played this postseason, however, he just didn’t look right.
— Masai Ujiri Saison (@indubitablyanon) June 11, 2021
“I have a pinched nerve,” Ibaka explained further last month. “When your nerves come from your disc and go down in your legs. It’s more nerves since. Yeah, it’s been a very rough year for me since the beginning of the season but I want to play through the pain but at some point I could not continue to play like that.”
Ibaka appeared in 41 games for the Clippers this season, averaging 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 51 percent from the field.