Paul George Comments on Playing for Team USA at 2016 Rio Olympics

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 2, 2016

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Denver. The Nuggets won 129-126. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Two years after breaking his leg during a Team USA scrimmage, Indiana Pacers star Paul George will attempt to return to the international basketball spotlight this summer during the Olympics.  

During an interview with ESPN's Cari Champion, via ESPN.com news services, George explained his mindset in trying to get back on the American squad heading to Rio in August:

I was just hesitant on the simple fact that, the past couple years has obviously been tough for mejust felt like I didn't have enough time to myself, and time to recover, and you know, give my body a rest. I didn't want to jump out of a season, jump right into the Olympics. But I think I kind of said that too prematurely.

I didn't give myself enough time to really think it through. I think since I've been off, my body's telling me yes, my mind is telling me yes, people around me are telling me yes. So I feel good about it. And, you know ... I want to give it a shot.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com less than one week after George's injury that the team was planning to keep his roster spot open if he was healthy and willing to play in 2016:

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.’ 

The gruesome leg injury that George suffered in 2014 left his future in doubt. He suffered a compound fracture, which is when the bone breaks through the skin, and missed 76 games during the 2014-15 season while recovering.

George looked like his All-Star self during the 2015-16 season. The 26-year-old averaged a career-high 23.1 points in 81 games while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out 4.1 assists in helping the Pacers reach the playoffs. 

The roster for the 2016 USA basketball team that will be heading to the Olympics has not yet been finalized, though George was among the 30 finalists for the squad that came out in January. 

The United States won gold in men's basketball at each of the previous two Olympics in 2008 and 2012. George was not part of the group four years ago, but he sounds ready to help the country defend its crown later this summer. 


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