Canaan suffers season-ending injury

Photo by AP

Story by Zach Scott, Contributing writer

Phoenix Suns guard and Murray State alumnus Isaiah Canaan suffered a season-ending injury Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Canaan was driving in for a lay-up in the first quarter when he came down awkwardly on his left leg. Scott Bordow, a reporter with The Arizona Republic was at the game and said his bone was visible through his skin on the left ankle. Canaan was carted off the court on a stretcher.   

The injury left the crowd in Talking Stick Resort Arena in shock as trainers and Suns’ forward Jared Dudley rushed to him immediately. Many compared his injury to that of the Boston Celtics’ forward Gordon Hayward, who fractured his left ankle in the Celtics’ season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Suns’ team doctor said that Canaan suffered a fractured fibula in his left leg.

After the game, Suns interim Head Coach Jay Triano announced that Canaan will have surgery on Thursday. Triano said Canaan’s injury was an unfortunate setback for the team and the fans.

“It’s hard for fans and everybody sitting right there, teammates especially,” Triano said. “That’s their friend on and off the court.”

Players and coaches from both the Suns and Mavericks reacted to the injury after the game.

“It’s not easy for anybody,” Dallas Maverick Head Coach Rick Carlisle said. “The NBA is a family, as competitive as it is. You see one of your brothers go down like that, it’s scary. It causes pause. We just hope that he’s eventually going to be OK. We certainly wish him the best.”

Devin Booker, a shooting guard for the Suns, grew up in Mississippi like Canaan. Booker couldn’t even stomach looking at Canaan’s injury, as he reacted by burying his face in his warm-up.

“It hurts. It hurt me,” Booker said.

Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki witnessed Canaan’s injury, and grimaced knowing it happened to such a promising athlete in the league.

“That was unbelievable,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “I was right there. Once I turned around I obviously saw his foot, and you get sick to your stomach. He’s a young guy who is competing for a spot in this league. That’s heartbreaking.”

Canaan is in his 5th year in the NBA, and his first with Suns. Canaan was averaging 9.4 PPG and 4.2 assists per game with the Suns before the injury. In his career, Canaan has averaged 8.5 and 1.2 assists per game, respectively.

A star during his time at Murray State, Canaan averaged 15.5 PPG and 2.9 assists per game. In the 2012-13 season for the Racers, Canaan averaged 21.8 PPG, a career high for him. Canaan is currently the 5th in points in a career at Murray State history with 2,050 to his name.

Canaan is one of two Murray State alumnus that is currently playing in the NBA. The other, Cameron Payne, is with the Chicago Bulls. Payne was also injured earlier this year, fracturing his right foot. Payne had surgery on Sept. 6 and is out indefinitely.

The former Racer guard was set to be inducted into the Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 16-17 at the CFSB Center. Several current and former Murray State coaches and players offered their condolences to Canaan in wake of his gruesome injury.