By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
By now you have probably seen or at least heard about Paul George’s horrific injury during a scrimmage for USA Basketball last weekend. It’s an injury that will probably keep George out an entire season and one that raises the question, should NBA players be playing international basketball? Mark Cuban doesn’t think so. However players do it in other sports like soccer.
While it is a very tough blow to George’s regular team, the Indiana Pacers, something like this could have happened regardless. It’s a risk that is taken anytime someone competes. It could have happened to George while practicing at home. Heck, the Buffalo Bills lost a key defensive player for the year as he prepared for the upcoming season.
International tournaments are not unique to basketball. The biggest international competition of all just took place in Brazil. Soccer players have been playing in international tournaments like the World Cup since the sports inception and most of the time they play qualifiers during their club teams season.
Some may say that a middle ground might be for NBA teams to have a say in which of their players can participate in international tournaments but there again you can find precedent in soccer. On occasion club teams do not release their plays to play for their country for various reasons. Most of the time it is because a friendly falls during the club’s preseason. From the club teams point of view it’s a game that doesn’t matter because no qualification is on the line.
While George’s injury is unfortunate it in all likelihood will not stop NBA players from playing for Team USA on the international stage. Mark Cuban may not like it but it’s true. Other sports are able to pull it off and while it’s not perfect it does seem to work.