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Eric Walden: A hard conversation about the breaks of the game

Published August 2, 2014 4:22 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Seeing Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George break his leg Friday night in a Team USA scrimmage in Las Vegas was … well, gruesome. No other word for it. It rivaled Kevin Ware's broken leg in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

It rivaled Shaun Livingston tearing pretty much everything in his left knee in an NBA game in 2007.

The videos of those respective injuries can be hard to watch.

And George's injury, occurring in a meaningless "Showcase" exhibition, will likely lead to hard questions about the continued usage of NBA players for national team duty.

How might such a conversation go? (For the sake of clarity, quotes followed by an asterisk were actually made in real life; everything else is made up by me.)

Paul George • "[Expletive!] [Expletive!] [Expletive!] That really hurts!"

Pacers owner Herb Simon • "[Expletive!] [Expletive!] [Expletive!] That really hurts … seeing my $90 million player incur an NBA season-ending injury in a non-NBA game."

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban • "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."*

Simon • "Mark … not now, please."

Cuban • "Look, Herb, I'm with you. I had Rodrigue Beaubois break his foot playing for France in 2010. And Dirk Nowitzki injured his knee in 2012 after playing for Germany. How many other NBA players have gotten hurt on national team duty?"

Bulls PF Pau Gasol • "I broke my foot playing for Spain in 2006."

Spurs SG Manu Ginobili • "I hurt my ankle playing for Argentina in 2008."

Spurs PG Tony Parker • "I hurt my knee playing for France in 2013."

Cuban • "Exactly. And how many guys pulled out from playing for Team USA in the last two weeks so they didn't take a chance getting injured?"

Clippers PF Blake Griffin • "Well, I found out I was already injured."

Blazers PF LaMarcus Aldridge • "I did."

Wolves PF Kevin Love • "I did … kind of. Trade situation and all that."

Spurs SF Kawhi Leonard • "I did … maybe because Pop 'suggested' I should, maybe because of Manu and Tony."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich • "One could probably just look at my face, or at the comments I've made in the past — that I'm not making now — and you can glean from that how happy I am about some of the guys playing in the summertime."*

Cuban • "So, we're all in agreement, then? No more using NBA players for national team play?"

Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski • "No, Mark, we're not all in agreement on this."

Cuban • "Wow, Mike, considering that you have the most to lose in this situation, your response wasn't at all predictable."

Krzyzweski • "C'mon, Mark …"

Cuban • "Especially since you're not risking any kind of investment."

Krzyzewski • "Geez, Mark …"

Cuban • "You know, Mike, maybe you're the problem. Some kind of jinx. You were on the court when Paul broke his leg and when Kevin Ware broke his leg."

Krzyzewski • "Anything can happen anywhere, a lot of things happen. Tonight it happened during a basketball game. We need to take care of that. It doesn't mean it'll happen again and again and again; it means that it happened right now. And we need to take care of right now appropriately and then move on.''*

Cuban • "Whatever. Maybe I'll buy that when I hear it from an NBA guy."

Pacers president Larry Bird • "We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA's goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere."*

Cuban • "Hey, Larry … you do realize it's your guy who's out for the year, right?"

Bird • "[Expletive!] [Expletive!] [Expletive!] That really hurts!"







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