Paul George suffered a gruesome injury during Friday night's Team USA Scrimmage. The #HotTakes came fast and quickly afterwards. The stanchion was too close according to the crack reporting team at ESPN. The official measurement, 3'11", one inch closer to the baseline than NBA standards dictate. It is important to note that over 30 summer league games took place at the Thomas and Mack Center this summer alone. Below I have collected all of the articles warning of the impending danger of that one inch discrepancy.
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Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, had his own take on the injury.
"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. The players and owners should get together and create our own World Cup of Basketball."
It is funny to read an owner who owes much of the global popularity of his sport to international basketball to bash it so much. Please note his issue is that other people are making money off "his" players.
On the other hand, there is the statement issued by Larry Bird, President of the Indiana Pacers.
"Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family. It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery.
"There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.
"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.
"Finally, the Pacers would like to thank our fans and the NBA community for their outreach of support in the brief amount of time since the injury occurred. It has been overwhelming and it is what makes Indiana and the NBA special."
Along this line of thinking, Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins reminds readers that Paul George owes a lot to the work he has put in over the summer each year.
He was proof of how NBA players transform themselves in the summer, from benchwarmers to headliners, by working when no one is watching. George creates comprehensive checklists every off-season of skills he plans to burnish: ball-handling, shooting, post-ups. He once told Pacers head coach Frank Vogel he would return from the break a completely different player.
He couldn’t make those strides simply by lifting weights or working in isolation. He had to be on the court, honing his dribble with Jerry Powell in New York or his inside game with Don MacLean in Los Angeles or his stroke with Brian Shaw in Indy. Today’s American stars view the Team USA experience as another step on their path to the elite. They learn from their peers by spending an extended period alongside them. "This is bigger than just basketball," George proudly told reporters last month. "We’re representing our nation."
Dialogue will rage all week about whether NBA franchises should allow their high-priced employees to risk injury in international competition. Critics will point to the stanchion at the Thomas & Mack, which appeared slightly closer than on a regulation court. They will draw comparisons to football and baseball, where players stay in shape without plying their trade.
But basketball is different. Hoopers hoop, regardless of time and even conditions. They show up every summer at Rucker Park in New York and the Goodman League in Washington D.C. They join afternoon runs at UCLA and charity exhibitions in North Carolina. When Rockets guard Patrick Beverley was rehabbing a broken hand this season, and thirsting for contact, he crossed the street from the Toyota Center and went skins at Root Memorial Square Park. If NBA teams ban players from international contests, then the unregulated summer events will also have to go, and so will a part of the league’s streetwise appeal. George won’t be swinging by the Drew League, as he did last month, dropping 33 and throwing down a 360 jam. He also won’t be sparring with Nick Young at a health club in Reseda, as he did as a young player, when a trainer told him: "Paul, I’m going to ask you to dominate, and I wouldn’t ask that if I didn’t think you could."
Paul George’s year has been ruined by summer basketball. His career, though, has been made by it.
SB Nation's own Tom Ziller pointed out the obvious.
But let's put everything on the table: owners and GMs are concerned with protecting their financial investments in players and in protecting their teams' on-court aspirations. Players participate in international competition because they love the sport and their countries, and they want to play with friends from rival NBA teams. No one other than a shoe company is getting rich off of Team USA.
The motives for players to participate in FIBA competition are largely altruistic. The motives for owners and GMs to block that participation are not. That shouldn't be the whole argument, but it puts the debate in proper perspective.
Anthony Davis on the Rise
Anthony Davis was also a popular topic leading up to the scrimmage. Brian Windhorst pointed out that Davis is the Center of Attention with LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love forgoing participation in the FIBA World Cup. Nina Mandell for USA Today has Three Reasons why Davis is going to be a breakout player this summer.
Interestingly enough, before the game it was Davis (pictured above) who addressed the crowd. Not reigning MVP Kevin Durant or former MVP Derrick Rose; New Orleans' own Anthony Davis. Either he was deliberately selected by the Team USA staff or he lost a game of short straws in the locker room. I am going with the former.
Team USA's schedule is available here. The next camp begins on August 14th in Chicago, culminating in an exhibition game against Brazil on the 16th. After that there are exhibition games on the 20th (Dominican Republic at Madison Square Garden), 22nd (Puerto Rico at Madision Square Garden) and the 26th (Solvenia in Spain) before the World Cup itself begins on August 30th against Finland.