For those still unaware, in the USA Basketball Showcase on Friday night, George went up to block an attempted layup by James Harden. When he landed, his foot was caught in the stanchion, forcing his leg to bend at an awkward angle. You can view the injury here. (Warning: Injury is gruesome in nature.)
The injury rattled everyone from players to spectators and those covering the game who witnessed it in person.
George tweeted out his thanks for all of the support he's received:
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
Some immediately questioned whether the basket was too close to the baseline, in part causing the injury. ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver posted photos of the hoop in question:
Basket stanchions at Thomas & Mack Center appears to be significantly closer than NBA standard. pic.twitter.com/q0Nd5N847D— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 2, 2014
Here's the distance between baseline and stanchion at Thomas & Mack pic.twitter.com/x1B3U8wDPQ— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 2, 2014
Windhorst spoke about the issue on SportsCenter after the game. He said that the closeness of the basket is more of an issue with the Thomas & Mack Center, rather than with FIBA or the NBA. The arena is used for college basketball and the NBA Summer League, but it's not necessarily an arena the league uses on a regular basis.
Windhorst also said that the NBA deemed the Thomas & Mack Center unfit for a team and major NBA events because of its compact nature. There's little room for maneuverability with the basket in order to increase player safety.
Jason Gobel provided a side-by-side comparison of the baselines at the Thomas & Mack Center and Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis where George plays his home games:
CBS Sports' Ken Berger later reported expected dimensions of the stanchions:
On Paul George: stanchions must be 4 feet from baseline in NBA games. Last night in Vegas about an inch shy of that standard, source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) August 2, 2014
Shaquille O'Neal and Ty Lawson were among many calling for the baskets to be moved back so as to avoid injuries like this:
I hope now they will move da basket back, if paul wouldn't of hit the base of the basket. He would be ok, tell me what u think #moveitback— SHAQ (@SHAQ) August 2, 2014
Prayers up for Paul George!!!!! I've been saying the backstop of the basket should be pushed back further— Ty Lawson (@TyLawson3) August 2, 2014
ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin and Basketball Insiders' Nate Duncan pointed out that the problem goes beyond simply the distance between the stanchion and the baseline. Cameramen also provided an unnecessary obstacle for players:
Spoke to 2 coaches here in Vegas tonite who say the court must be expanded on the baseline. Not just stanchion issue, also camera men— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) August 2, 2014
It's time to address the safety of players with obstacles (either stanchion or photographers) under the basket. Hope this finally does it— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) August 2, 2014
This is a topic many coaches, players and fans have discussed before, and the NBA could react swiftly after watching one of its biggest stars go down.
The silver lining of all of this—if you can call it that—is that George may force the necessary changes to be made. Although it will be too late for him, future NBA players would be much safer as a result. Player safety should take precedence over getting cameramen or VIPs a little closer to the court.