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Adam Silver says he's discussed changes to NBA concussion protocol with players union

Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

Before the NBA Finals tipped off in Oakland on Thursday night, commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference at Oracle Arena - a sort of State of the League address in which he touched on a wide range of hot-button topics.

First and foremost, Silver discussed the league's concussion protocol, a somewhat opaque system by which players are assessed after suffering head injuries, to determine whether they're fit to return to game action.

That protocol has come under particularly heavy scrutiny in the past week, in the wake of the decision to clear Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson to return to Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals after he took a flying knee to the temple.

Thompson didn't end up re-entering the game, but very well could have, had the Warriors not been comfortably ahead. His teammate, Stephen Curry, had returned to Game 4 just two days earlier after suffering a similarly frightening head injury.

While Curry remained symptom-free, Thompson exhibited concussion symptoms immediately after the game, vomiting and complaining of wooziness. When he was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion - to the surprise of few who'd seen the incident - it sparked concern, outrage, and an investigation into the NBA's protocol from players union chief Michele Roberts, who said she was "mortified" that Thompson had been cleared to return.

Silver initially said he was satisfied with the protocol, and dismissed the Thompson incident as a "freak occurrence." In his press conference Thursday, though, he seemed to acknowledge that the system could use some revision.

He didn't go into detail about what those potential alternatives would look like, but it's safe to assume they would involve more restrictive criteria for clearing players with head injuries to return to the same game in which they've been injured. Perhaps, given that concussion symptoms often take longer than a couple of hours to reveal themselves, even ruling out a return in certain situations.

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