Updates from Sunday, August 3
Cuban took to Twitter to talk about the story on Sunday:
When considering FIBA/Olympic events ask who gets paid. Players=No. NBA=No FIBA/IOC=YES. Ask the people making money of us what they think— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) August 4, 2014
Dear nba media. Don't ask me about the Olympics. Ask the IOC what they think. Why aren't they talking?— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) August 4, 2014
Adam Silver commented on the possibility of the NBA running their own tournament, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
Commissioner Adam Silver tells ESPN tonight that "I don't anticipate a major shift in the NBA's participation in international competition"— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 3, 2014
But Silver does acknowledge "this will be a topic at our next NBA Competition Committee meeting in SEPT & Board of Governors meeting in OCT"— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 3, 2014
Paul George's horrific leg injury has called star players' involvement in international competitions into question. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks he might have a solution, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
Cuban spoke to Stein after George went down during a USA Basketball Showcase scrimmage Friday night in Las Vegas. You can view the injury here. (Warning: Injury is gruesome in nature.)
His biggest point of contention is a provision in the NBA's agreement with FIBA that states only players can remove themselves from national team consideration. Teams can try to sway their players in a certain direction, but the decision is ultimately out of their hands except in extremely limited, medically related circumstances.
Cuban feels that players, teams and team owners would be better served by creating their own World Cup tournament, outside the influence of FIBA and the International Olympic Committee:
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.
Indiana Pacers Team President Larry Bird released a statement on the team's website. In it, he refused to criticize FIBA:
We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA's goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.
ESPN.com's Royce Young wondered if the uproar against the current international structure was being overstated simply because of a terrible confluence of events:
Don't really get the outcry over stars playing in international comps. If Messi gets hurt in the World Cup should that stars sit that too?— Royce Young (@royceyoung) August 2, 2014
What if a player got hurt playing at Rucker, or the Drew League or at the Goodman? Outlaw those too? Injuries suck so hard, but they happen.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) August 2, 2014
Stein countered that the World Cup is held to a much higher standard for soccer players than it and the Olympics are for basketball players:
The difference will always be that the World Cup is the pinnacle of world soccer. In the NBA, international play isn't seen as the pinnacle— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 2, 2014
Guys who play for Team USA will tell you they cherish every second. But gold medals, for NBA guys, don't make their resume like rings can— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 2, 2014
You can understand each of the three perspectives.
For Cuban, it would be extremely frustrating to watch one of your best players go down in a meaningless exhibition game for a tournament that Stein correctly points out hasn't built any sort of equity in the basketball world.
On the contrary, Young brings up a point about injuries being completely unpredictable. Turner Sports' Matt Winer evoked Kevin Love's infamous knuckle push-ups, which resulted in a broken wrist and kept him out for a significant portion of the 2012-13 season.
There's no perfect solution, and no amount of player-safety measures will completely prevent injuries from happening.
It will be interesting, though, to see if more owners jump on Cuban's bandwagon. They have millions of dollars invested in players. At the very least, if somebody got hurt in an NBA-sanctioned World Cup, the burden would be on the league and its owners, not an international sporting body.
Any changes made will obviously be too late for George, but his injury could set in motion the behind-the-scenes machinations to make Cuban's plan a reality. Whether that would help players avoid injuries is anybody's guess.