Some debate has pervaded the basketball world after Paul George's brutal compound leg fracture at a Team USA scrimmage not only knocked him out of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, but also made any appearance during the 2014-15 NBA season extremely doubtful.
Should star players suit up for international competitions, or should they treasure their NBA experiences and avoid setting themselves up for rising injury risks?
If it helps you make up your mind, George himself would like to weigh in. During a press conference, the All-Star small forward told the world he viewed this as a freak accident:
In the rising star's mind, this isn't the result of overexertion with Team USA. He's not going to blame the squad for having the team play on a court which featured a stanchion a bit too close to the baseline.
This was a freak accident. It could've happened to anyone at any time.
Injuries are an inherent risk when playing a physically tolling sport like basketball, and this just as easily could've taken place during an NBA game, in which case the outcry would have been far less significant. Kudos to George for making that clear, and you can infer without too many logical leaps that he supports star players continuing to suit up for their countries.
Especially because, you know, he wants to do that himself.
"We've told him we have a spot for him in '16," Jerry Colangelo, Team USA's managing director, told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, and he continued with the following:
We thought it's the right thing to do. That's it…We didn't give thought to all the detail. Just that when a guy goes down and all these things, the circumstances, his career passes before him, he's out for a year, a year-plus, he's not able to participate now with us—we wanted to throw that out and say, 'We're counting on you. You've got a spot in '16.'
Apparently, it's a spot George will be taking.
"If he does play in Rio, it'll probably happen only if he feels strong enough to do so," wrote Eric Freeman for Yahoo Sports. There's plenty of time between now and then, but one important part of the process already appears to be out of the way—the mentality.
PG knows this accident was exactly that—an accident, and a freak one at that.
A lot can change between now and the summer of 2016, but George's words—so long as they're followed up by actions—should all but ensure Team USA doesn't experience a decline in star power down the road. Following such a devastating injury, the Indiana Pacers star really does have that type of influence.