Aron Baynes reaches NBL deal with Bullets after terrifying spine injury in Tokyo Olympics

Aron Baynes of Team Australia
Aron Baynes hasn't played since he went down with a spine injury in the Tokyo Olympics. (Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Aron Baynes is getting back on the court.

Baynes, about a year after he suffered a strange fall and spinal injury at the Tokyo Olympics, has reached a deal to join the National Basketball League’s Brisbane Bullets, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Baynes agreed to a two-year deal to join the Bullets, though he has a provision in his deal that would allow him to leave early and return to the NBA. He reportedly had deals to go play in Europe and China, however those wouldn’t have allowed an early return to the NBA.

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The 35-year-old hasn’t played since he was knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics last summer. Baynes went down with a neck injury during Australia’s game against Italy, which sent him back to the locker room. There, Baynes slipped and fell.

He was taken to a local hospital, where an MRI revealed internal bleeding that was putting pressure on his spinal cord. Baynes spent two months in hospitals, and didn't play at all again until earlier this year.

“The loneliest time in my life was laying in that hospital, going in and out of consciousness, going over my life plan and my goals and just crying," Baynes said.

"My uncle Don had an accident 10 years ago. He's a quadriplegic. My family's had first-hand experience with this going down. I was so scared."

Baynes spent nine seasons in the NBA, most recently with the Toronto Raptors, where he averaged 6.1 points and 5.2 rebounds during the 2020-21 season. He’s averaged six points and 4.6 rebounds throughout his career, and he won a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.