Paul George injury reminds us how difficult Anderson Silva’s comeback attempt still is

Paul George (left) broke his leg Friday night, similar to the way Anderson Silva did last year.

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

We’ve all seen the videos and images of Anderson Silva’s broken leg over and over again. Maybe we haven’t forgotten about it, but it’s possible we’ve all become slightly desensitized. Watch anything repeatedly and it becomes, pardon the pun, kind of normal.

Silva’s first fight since snapping his leg on Chris Weidman’s shin last December was announced this week. He’ll be returning after just 13 months away to fight Nick Diaz at UFC 183 on Jan. 31, yet few were really talking about how incredible — and difficult — it really is that he’s attempting to do this.

Then Paul George horrifically broke his leg during a USA basketball instraquad game Friday night in Las Vegas. The first thing most MMA fans thought about? Silva. He went through a very similar thing just eight months ago and spoke on a media call Friday about getting into the cage again.

No one knows if George will ever play basketball again, just like the majority of onlookers figured Silva’s UFC career was over in December. George, the Indiana Pacers star and one of the best players in the NBA, has yet to be given a prognosis.

Doctors will tell you that the insertion of a titanium rod and some screws into the broken bone will make all the difference. The bone will heal and will be as strong as ever. Medically, all that is true. But how about mentally? It’s impossible to know. Everyone reacts differently to trauma.

Silva, 39, seemed to have the proper mindset from the very start. Within hours of the break, he was asking doctors when he would be able to fight again. The legend said Friday that he never once considered retirement.

Silva has nothing to prove. His legacy has been cemented. He’s the greatest UFC champion of all time and holds all the significant records. Yet he wanted to come back and decided that very quickly.

"I’m just dying to return to the Octagon and do the thing I love most in my life," Silva said.

The image and video of Anderson Silva’s broken leg have been repeated many times over the last eight months.

That doesn’t mean it has been easy and the journey is over. I spoke to Kevin Ware, the former Louisville men’s basketball player, in January, about 10 months after his own gruesome broken leg in the 2013 NCAA Elite Eight. He attempted to come back for the 2013-14 season, but was unable to and admitted, "I’m not the same person I was." Ware later transferred to Georgia State, where he will attempt to play in the fall.

He did not paint a rosy picture of what Silva’s return would be like.

"It’s so much more contact," Ware said of MMA compared to basketball. "It’s so much more tension on his leg with him using it so much. Kicking, blocking kicks. It’s a lot more than just basketball or physical activity. You’re actually hitting people with your leg. It’s gonna be difficult."

Silva posted what seemed like dozens of videos on Instagram of his rehab and his recovery seemed miraculous. But that’s just what he was showing the world. There was no way it wasn’t arduous — mentally, emotionally or physically. Silva has even admitted that his family does not want him to fight again.

Doctors have cleared the Brazilian to train, but he said he is not kicking at 100 percent just yet. It’s possible that Silva will never operate at his previous level again. And it’s too early to know anything about George, who is 24, 15 years younger than Silva.

We have as little an idea now about how Silva will perform in his comeback fight as we did in December — nothing. It’s important to keep in mind that regardless of the façade Silva wants to put forth, this has not been an easy time for him.

And if you need a reminder of that, just watch the video of George landing and getting his foot stuck in the basket stanchion Friday night. That will give you a cold dose of reality rather quickly.