In the middle of the third quarter of Game 3 between the Celtics and Heat in Boston, Dwyane Wade(notes) pulled Rajon Rondo(notes) to the ground after losing the ball on a drive. Rondo came down awkwardly on his left arm and appeared to suffer a terrible elbow injury. (The video, if you care to watch it, is here. Warning: it's not pretty.) The injury looked so bad that initial suggestions had Rondo missing the rest of the series, if not the entire playoffs. It was a crushing blow for the Celtics, although they battled on to hold a 72-61 lead after three quarters.
Official word categorized the injury as a dislocated elbow, which the Boston training staff popped in back in the locker room. Against all odds, Rondo returned to open the final quarter. While he had extremely limited use of his left arm, spending most possessions with it merely hanging by his side, Rondo soldiered on and proved to be pretty effective. Outside of that sizable issue, though, he seemed to suffer no ill effects, hustling hard and playing his typical role as the Celtics floor general.
He even had a stellar highlight: this steal on Chris Bosh(notes) -- with his injured arm, no less -- for a dunk at the other end. It wasn't the greatest play you'll ever see. Given the circumstance, though, it probably ranks among the most improbable.
It's as yet unclear if Rondo's elbow will limit him for the rest of the series, but his fourth-quarter performance will be remembered as one of the most shocking comebacks from injury in playoff history. A lesser player wouldn't have returned, let alone play so well.
(Original video via Ben Golliver)