Yesterday, basketball fans from all over the world we’re watching the Blue vs White exhibition game of the United States’ basketball team that will compete in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. The game which was played at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas featured players who look to earn a slot to represent their country as the US defends it’s title in August. The game had it’s highlights. Derrick Rose who missed majority of the previous NBA season showing his explosiveness that basketball fans missed during his time on the shelf. Damian Lillard lobbing up a 70 foot buzzer beater. As well as many more highlights.
But, in one instant what was supposed to be a showcase turned into a nightmare. There are videos and photos of the incident scattered around the internet. However, due to the graphic nature of the injury. It will not be shown in this entry.
James Harden was running for a fast break attempt, behind him was Paul George who was looking to make the defensive play. Disaster strikes when George after he tried to block Harden’s attempt landed on the hoop stanchions causing his right foot bend like a pretzel. In a similar fashion to Anderson Silva’s kick during his second battle with Chris Weidman to cap off 2013 in UFC. Immediately, the Thomas & Mack Center went silent. The players, coaches and fans were in disbelief. Tears ran down among those who witnessed the terrible injury. Harden was down to his knees, Kyrie Irving was crying on his father’s shoulders, Derrick Rose had thoughts on what he went through in recent years. The game was eventually called off, George was escorted to hospital on a stretcher. Both squads huddled up in arms for George.
Immediately after the injury, which caused a stream on social media as people remember similar freak injuries that have happened in recent years. From Anderson Silva to Kevin Ware’s Elite Eight injury last season to Shaun Livingston’s injury from years ago. Fellow NBA players, athletes, coaches, team executives and fans from all over the world sent their thoughts and prayers to George for a speedy recovery immediately after the news broke out. George underwent successful surgery but would “likely miss” the entire 2014-15 NBA season.
The injury also gave a deep hole not only to the NBA and the USA basketball program, but also to international basketball as a whole. It was 22 years ago, the USA basketball program allowed NBA players to play for their country in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics after competing with players from the collegiate level. Since the famed “Dream Team”, the USA has won gold in 6 of the last 7 Summer Olympics and 2 FIBA Basketball World Cup tournaments (1994 and 2010). In turn, it allowed other countries to catch up with the sports. Notable examples were Spain, Argentina, France and Brazil who have NBA players play for their respective countries. With Argentina winning gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and Spain winning the 2006 FIBA World Championship and finishing silver in the last two Summer Olympics.
Only time will tell if whether or not the NBA will continue to send their players to international competition or will this be the end of an era in international basketball. But early into this story, it can be said that international basketball will never ever be the same again. We’ll be on watch on what will happen next.
On a personal note, this has been sad. Especially for a guy like me who loves the sport and plays it on a casual level. Some people may call people like me who pay attention to this more than anything else happening in the world “you care less for other things”. It’s true there are other things worth paying attention to than this. But, this means something to me on a personal level. So if you have friends or family members who feel the same way that I do, please do bear with them. Nobody wants to see a terrible injury like this in any sport.
So for Paul George who happens to be one of my favorite NBA players not in a red and white Rockets uniform. I wish you a speedy recovery. Hope you can come back better than ever. We hope to see you again on the hard court. This ain’t the end for you. It’s only the beginning.