WARNING: The following article contains graphic images that some readers may find disturbing.
American star Casey Prather has suffered one of the most gruesome injuries the NBL has ever seen.
Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman expects to be without Prather for several weeks after he dislocated his elbow in Saturday night's 84-78 win over Illawarra in Wollongong.
Prather, who won two NBL championships with the Perth Wildcats before joining Melbourne this season, landed awkwardly in the second quarter before being assisted to the dressing room in obvious discomfort.
Melbourne were already with injured backup centre Majok Majok and had to rely on Craig Moller and Dave Barlow when they lost Prather.
"It's obviously a bad dislocation," Vickerman said.
"We're not sure of the time frame but I couldn't see him getting back in a couple of weeks. We'll assess that situation and make the adjustment from there.
"He's not feeling very good. We gave him some painkillers and they'd worn off by the end of the game."
It's the second gruesome injury in the NBL this year, with New Zealand Breakers star Akil Mitchell having his eye pop out of its socket in January.
Remarkably, Mitchell was able to return the very next week and didn't suffer any permanent damage.
Melbourne United's win was their eighth of the season and left them alone in third spot on the ladder.
They led by as many as 16 in the first half and had to withstand a late Hawks comeback.
Vickerman is in his first year with the club after taking over from former coach Dean Demopolous and knows there is a high level of expectation on his talented team to make the playoffs.
"We know the offensive system is going to take a bit of time to work it all out and it's going to be a challenge how we adjust with Casey out, but we feel like we're getting better," he said.
"We got our arse kicked by Perth and we got to go away and assess everything we're doing, and build on our defence. We've come out solid after the FIBA break and we're holding teams to good numbers defensively."