It’s the next step in a remarkable recovery by the 35-year-old Baynes. He suffered a spinal cord injury after a freak fall while playing for the Australian national team.
As he revealed in January, Baynes ran to the bathroom between the third and fourth quarters of Australia’s game against Italy but didn’t return, prompting a concerned staff member to look for him. That staffer found Baynes in the locker room near the bathroom, sprawled on the floor with blood on his uniform and two puncture marks in his upper arm (possibly caused by two towel hooks on the wall).
Baynes, who had landed on his head and neck after slipping off the rim during a dunk attempt in warmups three days earlier, may have hit his head again when he fell on his way to the bathroom. He was unable to stand up or walk under his own power and was quickly rushed to a Japanese hospital, where he stayed for the rest of Australia’s Olympic run, worried that he might be paralyzed. Scans showed internal bleeding was putting pressure on his spine.
Baynes was in hospitals in Tokyo and Brisbane for nearly two months last summer as he learned to walk again, according to Windhorst. He began playing basketball again in January after regaining his strength through daily physical therapy.
Baynes has played nine seasons in the NBA and averaged 6.1 PPG and 5.2 RPG with the Raptors during the 2020/21 season.