EAST LANSING - For those who weren't at Jenison Field House the night that Earvin Johnson suffered an injury scare midway through a crucial battle with Ohio State in 1979, Sunday night's drama surrounding a Branden Dawson injury scare at Breslin Center is probably the closest thing seen around these basketball parts since the legendary night when Magic came back onto the floor to beat the Buckeyes.
Dawson - who missed March Madness of 2012, plus the spring, summer and most of the fall with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last year against Ohio State- went down awkwardly early in the second half of Michigan State's victory over Nebraska.
Most of the fear, concern and near-tears were borne out of Dawson's long battle back from last year's injury, as opposed to the do-or-die nature of the MSU-OSU game of 1979.
But there is little question that the ceiling of potential for this year's Spartan squad threatened to collapse a few stories lower when Dawson fell to the floor and didn't get up.
Dawson lay on the court with his face contorted in pain and emotions after the fall. Breslin Center grew frightened and quiet. Tom Izzo walked on the the court, knelt down and took Dawson's head in his hands.
"Coach was saying, 'Please get up, please get up,'" Dawson said.
Dawson wanted to.
"Oh s***, there goes the season," Nix would say later when asked what went through his mind when he saw Dawson on the court.