NBA stars should maintain international status

By Terrence Hinds, Staff Writer

Published in print Sept. 10, 2014

Team USA has dominated the 2014 FIBA World Basketball Championship early with their average margin of victory being close to 32 points per game.

Team USA’s roster is filled with some of the best players in the NBA so it is not surprising that the team has dominated the tournament. Each time the United States plays basketball internationally rather in the Olympics or in the FIBA World Tournament, the questions always arises from fans and analyst:

What if the country’s best players decided that playing for their country was not worth their time anymore? Would the United States still be able to dominate the rest of the world in basketball?

On Friday August 1, Team USA had an intersquad scrimmage in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During what seemed to be a routine transition basketball play, Indiana Pacer small forward and star player Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury. During the play, George broke both his tibia and fibula in his right leg.

In one of the most gruesome injuries in recent sports history, George’s season and chance at an NBA championship this season ended suddenly due to playing international basketball in the off-season.

In the aftermath of the injury, debate sparked blazed throughout the NBA landscape. Questions arose as George’s leg fracture was spread through national television and Youtube:

Should NBA teams allow their biggest assets to play for their country where they risk possible injury? A underlying aspect which has been discussed is that since the Indiana Pacer’s are paying George over $75 million over the next five years, it is completely understandable why league general managers would be hesitant to allow their players to play and risk injury in international basketball.

Personally, if a player is good enough to play for his country and actually wants to do so, there should be no restriction placed on them. Since basketball players have a shelf life, they should be able to maximize every opportunity presented to them to play the game they love.

Some of the greatest players in the history of the league played for their country which raised little doubts in the past.

When professionals were first allowed to play internationally in 1989, from Magic Johnson to Penny Hardaway and to Kobe Bryant, it has almost become a rite of passage for NBA stars. Playing basketball for Team USA is an honor that not many professional basketball players ever get to experience.

If you listen to any ex-player who has done so, they would all certainly agree that they get a serious sense of honor and pride when they were able to have letters USA across their chest.

George’s injury was a freak accident that could have happened on any basketball court on the planet. During the off-season most NBA players play basketball non-stop anyway which also include pro-am to pick up games at gyms throughout the nation.

You can not keep these players away the court in their supposed downtime. You will not find a more organized environment than you will for team USA basketball.

At least elite coaches and some of the best trainers will surround the players and doctors there are in sports.

After the injury, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was resilient NBA players would still play internationally in a USA TODAY Sports interview.

“I don’t anticipate a major shift in the NBA’s participation in international competitions.” This comes as music to my ears because it would make me sad to not see the best players on the planet play for the gold.

Two years ago the idea was tossed around NBA circles that maybe there should be a age restriction of 23 for playing for the team. It was quickly put to the side due to the negative feedback from current players. The bottom line is NBA players want to play for their country. Going for the gold medal is an honor and I think the players understand that. George’s injury will become a distant memory and business will continue as normal for USA Basketball.


Categories: Sports, terrence hinds

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