Indiana Pacer’s star Paul George broke his leg last Friday night in a Team USA televised scrimmage. The video of his gruesome injury has since gone viral, as have rumbles of discontinuing NBA participation in international competition.
NBA teams have always been apprehensive allowing their players to participate in non-NBA events. General managers and owners watch the games nervously, praying good health for their multi-million dollar investments. Friday night those anxieties came to fruition. The worst case scenario for NBA management and FIBA’s greatest nightmare.
FIBA, the international basketball federation, has struggled to make a celebrated international tournament. They recently renamed the quadrennial competition “The World Cup,” in hopes to one day create a basketball equivalent to FIFA’s spectacle. The Olympics remain a more prestigious event than FIBA’s creation, the opposite of how things work in soccer. The backlash from George’s injury is a setback.
It certainly could have been prevented. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst pointed out how the basketball stanchions at UNLV Thomas & Mack Center are significantly closer to the court than in NBA arenas. Under the same circumstances, George would not have hurt his leg on an NBA court.
But injuries happen, that is the reality. Any basketball player will tell you there’s a risk every time they lace their sneakers. George might have been hurt working out or playing in the Los Angeles famed Drew League, the stars aligned for a Team USA scrimmage. It was a freak occurrence and the basketball gods are to blame.
As far as FIBA is concerned, a second catastrophic injury will be the catalyst for reform in professional participation in international competitions. The 2014 games, which start later this month, will be a tough one for them to enjoy. Disaster will always be one stanchion away.
By Kyle Edwards