The USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas was called off early after Paul George suffered a horrific leg injury in the fourth quarter.
Busted Coverage quickly provided video of the injury. (Caution: Injury is gruesome in nature.)
The Pacers supplied Larry Bird's statement on George's injury:
Statement from Larry Bird about Paul George: pic.twitter.com/xIRjSqxuwJ— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) August 2, 2014
NBA on ESPN also had Adam Silver's statement on the injury:
Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on Paul George's injury: pic.twitter.com/Zh0LByFmhm— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 2, 2014
George eventually addressed Twitter as well:
Thanks everybody for the love and support.. I'll be ok and be back better than ever!!! Love y'all!! #YoungTrece— Paul George (@Paul_George24) August 2, 2014
The Indiana Pacers star went up to block a James Harden layup on the fast break, but when he came down, his foot was caught in the stanchion of the basket, causing his leg to bend in an unnatural manner, per ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst:
George got his leg caught on the basket standard at the end of a fast break. Players really upset.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 2, 2014
Both teams held a prayer on the court after the injury, per NBA on ESPN:
USA Basketball players circle up on the court to take a moment for Paul George. pic.twitter.com/MsXxkwaqJ4— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 2, 2014
George's teammate Roy Hibbert spoke for everybody with this tweet:
Damn— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) August 2, 2014
LeBron James tweeted out his best wishes to the two-time All-Star:
Man just landed and got a message about @Paul_George24. Made me immediately sick to my stomach!! Praying for u a speedy recovery homie!!!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 2, 2014
After assessing the nature of the injury and situation, Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski decided to call the game, per ESPN:
Coach Mike Krzyzewski announces out of respect to Paul George and his family, the rest of the game will not be played pic.twitter.com/zP9cPjC0Fp— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 2, 2014
USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo spoke after the game, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver:
“This is a very tough blow. Not so much about us, but about Paul. It’s a first for us in USA Basketball.” Colangelo— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 2, 2014
“It’s very, very emotional. There’s no way the game could have gone on under the circumstances.” Colangelo— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 2, 2014
The White Team held an 81-71 lead with 9 minutes and 34 seconds to go before George went down. His injury cast a heavy cloud over what had previously been an enjoyable night of basketball.
With the FIBA World Cup less than a month away, the exhibition was a great opportunity for those on the fringes to prove themselves to Krzyzewski. Although guys like Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Paul George have already booked their places in Spain, plenty of other spots remain up for grabs.
"This isn’t evaluating one individual and his game," said Krzyzewski, per NBA.com's John Schuhmann. "It’s about evaluating a group and how a group will go together. All these guys are outstanding players. It’s just a matter of how we feel they can mesh as a unit."
Since something tangible was on the line in the game, the players weren't content to go at half-speed and play matador defense. As ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, it was like watching the All-Star Game, if the players cared about the All-Star Game:
This USA basketball scrimmage is already so much better to watch than any All Star game, because, you know, they're actually playing...— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) August 2, 2014
The White Team jumped out to a massive 60-43 lead into halftime, capped off by a Damian Lillard heave from nearly his own baseline:
That's about how well things were going for the White Team and how badly things were going for the Blue Team. Clearly Tom Thibodeau's defensive style was rubbing off on his team:
Thibs D allowing less than a point per possession.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) August 2, 2014
Although Krzyzewski wasn't coaching the Blue Team, CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb thought his footprint was all over it:
Blue Team looking very... Duke-like— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) August 2, 2014
The Blue Team managed to get back into the game a little bit more after halftime, but the White Team continued to hold the upper hand throughout the second half.
One of the more interesting developments to watch was the performance of Derrick Rose. He hasn't played for the Chicago Bulls since November 2013 after suffering a torn meniscus, so this was many fans' first glimpse of him on a basketball court in months.
The 2011 MVP's performance was promising. He showed the explosiveness and athleticism that helped him become one of the best point guards in the league.
ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman and Bulls.com's Sam Smith were both pleased with Rose's work:
Great to see Derrick Rose back on the court -- healthy. Looks as fast and explosive as ever.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) August 2, 2014
The remarkable thing w/Rose is despite two major knee surgeries it doesn't appear he's lost any explosion or quickness.— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) August 2, 2014
The Vegas crowd even got an "MVP" chant going when Rose was taking foul shots, per ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell:
Crowd chants "MVP" with Rose on the line.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) August 2, 2014
It's tragically ironic that on the night Rose made his triumphant return, George goes down with a major leg injury.
He figured to be a large part of Team USA at the World Cup. The 24-year-old is one of the best players in the NBA. The tournament would've been a great way for George to erase the bad taste he left in many fans' mouths after the playoffs.
With his absence, there will be a massive hole in the squad. You can't simply throw another player into the same role and expect the same production.
Krzyzewski will have some more time to figure out which players he'll be taking to Spain. NBA on ESPN tweeted out the US' schedule in the buildup to the World Cup:
The Duke head coach will need all of that time to figure out how he'll replace George.
But obviously, the more pressing concern is the seriousness of George's injury. Every NBA fan is hopeful that he can make a full recovery and remain one of the top stars in the league.