As my twitter timeline exploded Friday night about the Paul George injury, I was playing with my son while half watching the United States Men’s National Team Showcase. I missed the injury as it happened but rewound my DVR to see the injury for the first time. Paul George, an NBA All Star, a sure fire selection to make the National Team and leading scorer for the Eastern Conference finalists Indiana Pacers suffered a completely horrible injury Friday night. He is now resting and recovering in a Las Vegas hospital after successful surgery to repair what doctors have said is an open tibia-fibula fracture to his right leg. Estimates for his recovery are any where from 9 months to over a year.
USMNT Coach Mike Krzyzewski ended the game prematurely in the 4th quarter after the injury stopped play, which was a respectable and wise decision but nothing at that point could fix what had already been done. Even though I rewound the DVR to a few minutes before the injury occured, when Paul George was still running down the court, nothing could fix or re-do his foot running into the base of the basket and placing abnormal impact on his leg. Nothing could move back that same base of the basket back further or like many pointed out back to where it should have been in the first place. Nothing could be done but to pray and hope for the best – and worry. Worry about your own franchise player who is all set to play in the FIBA World Championships as well.
I, like many Grizz fans had the same feeling fall over me immediately as I watched the replay of the incident while holding my son – “That easily could have been Marc…” Of course I thought that. Of course we all thought that. Any Grizz fan would understandably have that concern about their franchise player suffering an injury like that in a game that amounts to nothing more than an open practice. In this edition of Noise From The Sain Asylum I will take a quick look at why even though as a fan it’s natural to worry about your own players, we should look at last nights incident for what it was – a freak accident and an isolated incident.
Every summer dating back to our inaugural season with Pau Gasol, Grizz fans have debated about whether or not our players should participate in international play. This is of course a common and understandable concern that is echoed across the NBA by all fanbases. We all want our players to take the summers off and focus on conditioning or specific skills and not participate in competitive play and risk injuries. We don’t want to see our season go down the drain like Indiana Pacers fans did last night. For a moment we all felt that sick feeling that Pacers fans must have felt, but here is something to think about. What happened to Paul George could have happened to any player on that court last night and on any court in the world. There is nothing any more dangerous about playing international basketball than playing in the summer league or in a pro am or in pick up game. An injury like that is no less likely to occur in an actual NBA game or in game 7 of the NBA finals. Yes, if George declined to play for the national team this summer that injury would not have happen last night but who is to say that it may not have happened to someone else in a preseason game in October or in training camp.
Injuries happen. They are a sad and unfortunate part of the game. I, like many wish that Marc was somewhere sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber but he’s not. His national pride won’t let him. He’s in great shape as made evident by the pictures that are surfacing on the web and he is primed and ready to represent his native Spain. I, personally don’t understand it, I don’t agree with it, but I also don’t have to. I don’t have an entire nation depending on me to represent them. I am by no means a national hero. As NBA fans we want what’s best for the NBA but to players like Gasol, there is so much more at stake to him. This isn’t for publicity, or to sell a new color way of his signature shoe, representing his country means a lot to Marc and other players that were born on foreign soil. Just like it means a lot to himself and his country to represent his country in the NBA as well. As Grizz fans let’s try our best to support Marc this summer and think positive thoughts. Let’s be excited to see how his conditioning has improved and see how much his recovered from his knee injury and see if he has added any new wrinkles to his game. Even if you are watching the FIBA World Championships with one eye opened, fingers crossed and holding your breath, lets keep Paul George in our prayers and keep supporting Marc even if we don’t agree with him playing.
Follow Anthony Sain on Twitter @SainAsylum