Good Monday morning to all of you Boston Celtics fans out there!
It was a tough weekend for hoops fans, wasn’t it? The sight of Paul George of the Indiana Pacers breaking his leg during a scrimmage for Team USA – ugh. I won’t share any video of that moment with you; personally, I think anyone who does is sick. Instead, here are some of the moments that followed, as captured on social media.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 3, 2014
— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 3, 2014
NBA players around the league showing their support for Paul George. pic.twitter.com/06YEyoCTNw
— NBA Flash News (@NBAFLASHNEWS) August 2, 2014
Coach K visiting Paul George. Awesome. pic.twitter.com/41DClghPLX
— NOT LeBron James (@FauxLeBronJames) August 3, 2014
Obviously, we all wish Paul George a safe and speedy recovery. He’s one of the NBA’s, and USA’s, rising stars, and we look forward to seeing him back on the court.
Of course, when an injury like this occurs to a star player such as George, people begin to over-react. Dallas mavericks owner Mark Cuban, for example, took this opportunity to criticize FIBA and the International Olympic Committee, even going so far as to suggest that the NBA runs its own competition:
The (International Olympic Committee) is playing the NBA. The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC (pulls in) billions of dollars. They make a killing and make Tony Soprano look like a saint. The pros in multiple sports are smart enough to not play when they are eligible free agents. But teams take on huge financial risk so that the IOC committee members can line their pockets. The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money.
A bit more level-headed response can be found at SI.com, where Phil Taylor argues that this injury should not deter players from suiting up for international contests.
It didn’t take long for that buzz to start after George suffered a gruesome open tibia-fibula fracture in the U.S. national team’s intrasquad scrimmage at UNLV Friday night. What happened to George, who may very well miss all of next season, has always been the big fear of NBA front offices. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been opposed to USA Basketball using NBA players for years, calling it “the biggest mistake the NBA makes.” The possibility of catastrophic injury is why so many NBA stars, and not just American ones, decide not to play for their countries, and it’s only natural to wonder whether the NBA should stop making its players available for international play.
But as horrible as George’s injury was, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski was right when he said that “anything can happen anywhere.” NBA players play. It’s not just what they do for a living, it’s what they do for fun. They play in the regular season and the offseason. They play charity games. They play pickup games at their old college gyms. They play on the playgrounds of Rucker Park. George’s injury could have happened in any of those settings just as easily as it did in Friday’s scrimmage. It’s true that NBA stars are paid millions and are valuable commodities to their teams, but unless you want to lock them up in velvet cases once the season ends, there is no way to eliminate the risk of offseason injury.
Finally, I leave you with a preview of what will surely become a large story this offseason, and perhaps during the entire 2014-2015 NBA season: how will the Indiana Pacers cope with the loss of Paul George?
Right off the bat, trade rumors involving the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers have started swirling, so I’ll get to those in a bit. For now, enjoy the reads!