Each face was aghast.
Faces had tears. Faces were lifeless. Faces were wrapped within the confines of a towel, protecting them from the fear that it could’ve been them.
The usual suspects’ names appeared in everyone’s head.
Paul George’s broken leg, following an attempted chase-down block, had the sports world frozen in shock. The only thing USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski could do was cancel the rest of the scrimmage, out of respect for George.
This could’ve been any of the other 19 players on that court. Unfortunately, it was George, in whom the Indiana Pacers have invested more than $90 million.
The initial shock still hasn’t worn off, and many NBA front offices are growing more and more hesitant on allowing its players to play in future international games.
While the thought isn’t surprising, seeing as how devastating the injury was to one of the league’s rising stars, it would be a mistake to do so.
Why? Because it was a routine play.
Every game, you see an athlete try to perform a chase-down block, just to preserve two points; LeBron James has highlight reels on YouTube doing it. It could easily happen to him; it just hasn’t.
The downside to the injury is that it was broadcast on ESPN, for all eyes to see, just like Ware’s injury on CBS.
The fact is that it was a freak accident.
Up until last Friday, here’s the list of NBA players seriously injured during international competition:
There’s a certain risk that all athletes run once their foot hits the court, field, pavement, etc. They know it, and they’ve accepted it because they love what they do.
Earlier in the week, USA Basketball announced that no players had withdrawn from the team following George’s injury. That alone speaks volumes.
The NBA shouldn’t have the right to restrict its players from playing for Team USA, or any other team. That choice belongs to the player.
Injuries are a part of the game and can happen anywhere. While it’s sad that it happened for everyone to see, it happens. Thankfully, George has time and age on his side to recover from it.
Come Sept. 14, the day of the final, I can assure you that, while George may not be playing, he’ll be on Team USA’s minds as they try to bring home the gold once again.