Last Friday night, USA Basketball put on a scrimmage in Las Vegas. The twenty players on the current Team USA roster were split into two squads, and matched up against each other. It was similar to an all-star game atmosphere. In a game where there as much fun to be had, and basketball to be learned, the only outcome turned to be a negative one. Indiana Pacers star small forward, Paul George, suffered a gruesome leg injury when he landed awkwardly on the base of the basket, after chasing down the opposing James Harden. At first, it did not seem as though he was greatly injured. Replays showed, however, that his leg wrenched just above the ankle, causing a ghastly image and complete fracture. Director of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo, at the time, had stated, “Everyone saw what we saw, but that’s for the medical team to decide, determine, and then make the announcement about what it is and what’s going to take place.” Ultimately, it has been determined that George will miss the entire 2014-2015 NBA season, causing some distress in the minds of owners, coaches, teammates, and fans alike.
This, of course, is the biggest concern when it comes to professional athletes participating in international competitions. Was the injury to George one that could have happened to anybody? Sure. But, it’s not for the faint of mind that this fluke injury happened to an NBA star. Debates based on the divide in perspective between pros and amateurs participating in international tournaments have only been bolstered by this event. In Chicago, the worry immediately settled in on Derrick Rose and his injured knees. Understandably, many people are calling for him to drop out. It’s not going to happen. If players feel the need to play for their country, there’s no stopping them.
Here’s the play:
As for the rest of Team USA, the roster is expected to be finalized to twelve players within the next few weeks. Some moves have already been made, with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Paul Millsap reportedly being the first to be left off the final Team USA roster. Of course, seeing as this isn’t the Olympics, but rather am International basketball-only tournament, many of the league’s top players declined to participate. In fact, Kevin Love, seeing the possibility of a trade in his future, dropped out of the Team USA basketball camp early on. He decided, smartly, that the risk of getting hurt right before he was going to be moved to a new team probably wasn’t going to look very good.
Now down to sixteen players on the roster, there was much speculation about some of the players pulling out from roster contention after the Paul George incident took place. Over the past weekend, however, multiple players and sources were heard as saying “no one is pulling out” and explaining that the work they have put in is not going to go to waste. While that is commendable, it is also a bit puzzling, seeing as they may suffer the same fate as George, no matter how unlikely.
As of right now, there are only a handful of players who are considered “locks” moving forward. Kevin Durant, James Harden, Derick Rose, Steph Curry, and Anthony Davis are all expected to be selected and receive substantial playing time. The official twelve-man roster must be submitted by Colangelo on August 29th, the day before the tournament opens.