Welcome to your Weekly NBA Fix for Aug. 2, the morning after Paul George’s horrific injury during the U.S. national team’s intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas.
Call it Mark Cuban’s nightmare scenario come to life.
Two years ago, during the ramp-up to the London Olympic Games, Cuban took the opportunity to one again rail about USA Basketball and the U.S. Olympic Committee profiting off the efforts of NBA stars without compensating them.
“I think it’s the biggest mistake the NBA makes,” Cuban said in April 2012. “If you look up ‘stupid’ in the dictionary you see a picture of the USA Dream Team playing for free for corporate America so the U.S. Olympic Committee can make billions of dollars. So if you come up with something that you own that you can give to me for free so I can make billions of dollars, I want it.”
You’d likely find few people around Indianapolis disagreeing with that sentiment after the Pacers’ All-Star forward sustained a gruesome fracture to his lower right leg when he landed near the basket stanchion after fouling James Harden on a drive to the basket early in the fourth quarter of the scrimmage.
USA Basketball released a statement (per ESPN.com) that George had successful surgery to repair a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg Friday night.
The video of the injury is below and be warned; if you are in the slightest bit squeamish about injuries, do NOT press play:
George is expected to remain hospitalized for about three days. ESPN.com cited sources who said George will likely miss the entire 2014-15 NBA season.
While Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said the club still supports the mission of USA Basketball, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported via Twitter that not all teams feel the same way in the wake of the George injury:
Owners and GMs united tonight: Paul George injury could be tipping point for use of stars in international play. “Game-changer,” GM told me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) August 2, 2014
While Cuban might come off superficially as unpatriotic, he has a couple of valid points. For starters, does the International Olympic Committee or the U.S. Olympic Committee take the billions raised off television rights and corporate sponsorships and give it away? No. They pay salaries in the high six- and sometimes seven-figure range to their executives.
I’m torn on the subject because on one hand, it’s plain to see how much the game has grown internationally since the original Dream Team went to Barcelona for the Olympics 22 years ago.
But on the other hand, that growth came with the knowledge that the only real reason the rules of Olympic participation were changed was because former Georgetown coach John Thompson put together a team for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul that did not have the necessary pieces to compete for a gold medal.
And after Thompson’s ill-equipped-for-international-play team took bronze in Seoul, the rules were magically changed to allow for participation of professionals for the 1992 Summer Games.
It’s hard to really love a system that changed only because the biggest bully in the room got beat and changed the rules in the wake of that defeat.
The other point Cuban makes that is valid is one that the Indiana Pacers are about to become intimately familiar with. The owners have no say in the process. The franchises get nothing out of allowing players to join national teams during the offseason, whether it be USA Basketball or the national squad for any other country.
But if a player gets hurt, such as George did Friday night, it’s the Pacers that will pay the price.
It’s hard to want to enthusiastically wave the stars and stripes after that.
Here’s a division-by-division look at what’s making news around the NBA this week: