When I did my rounds of sporting news outlets from around the world on the weekend, something become pretty freaking clear - Paul George was in a bad shape.
The simple nature of the headlines told it all, Paul George had suffered a serious leg injury ... that's pretty much the headline of many news sites. There wasn't the usual debate about the many consequences, there wasn't the writer turned doctor speculation, there was just that this was a pretty traumatic injury. Here's the footage, don't look
Of course, the Americans found a way to put some blame on the poor ol' basketball hoop stand, or as they put it the 'stanchion'. Which is fair enough ... I'd be a bit worried about the hoop stand being too close and I'm half the size of these guys so it was a recipe for disaster.
The shocking nature of the injury means that everything is automatically put into perspective, matters like team selection become trivial and that small pain in your calf muscle becomes irrelevant. The only thing for team USA to do is play on in Paul George's name, to do him proud and dedicate it to him. We as basketball fans from the other side of the globe, hope that team USA dedicates themselves to the upcoming World Cup and that they put on a show for PG because what happened at that reasonably low key practice will only fuel the fire of NBA team owners who don't want their star players risking themselves at tournaments like these.
It's a shocking injury that could happen at any time, any place and to any player. That's what NBA team owners need to be told.
Unfortunately, there have been two recent cases of an injury like this. One is Kevin Ware who only a few hours after the injury happened was called upon by ESPN to give people an idea of what the process will be like. The other is someone who won't be mentioned by any American, Jharal Yow Yeh. In high school, I never though I hoped that I would never have to see a compound fracture again after learning about it in a few health/PE classes. And now I've seen three in the past few years, kinda shitty.
Jharal Yow Yeh tried his hardest to get back in to the NRL, but in the end he couldn't. It's hard to imagine how anyone can walk, let alone run, jump and do all the things that a pro athlete does after they suffer a compound fracture. Kevin Ware did manage to make a come back, maybe the resources in America are better ... who knows, it's a case by case type of situation but to expect a human to come back after that is unrealistic. But these guys are professional athletes, it's what they do just don't expect to see George back anytime soon.
Everything about the situation sucks. Paul George is a franchise player who is about to enter a 5 year deal worth a tonne of money, which the Indiana Pacers would see as a deal well worth it. He's a young man who is widely liked and is known for being a lock down defender as well as a star scorer ... given how many NBA players can score, assist and set up players with ease, but can't defend, Paul George is easily one of the best players in the NBA. Much like Yow Yeh was one of the best players in the NRL.
The Pacers can pretty much write their season off now. Team USA lost a starter and International basketball took a massive blow, especially after the States turned things around and re-introduced a passion and desire to represent America at world events.
Injuries suck at the best of times, let alone something like this. It was extremely creepy seeing George lay there, his reaction seemed like the most relaxed in the arena as other players watched on in shock covering their faces with towels, shedding tears and fighting off a sense of helplessness which pops up in sport every so often. That ugly sense helplessness popped it's shitty self up again and athletes, spectators, parents and officials were given a reminder. Paul George didn't deserve it, no one did.
It seems like there can't be many positives from the situation. Maybe George will come back and be amazing thanks to some new medical procedure that works wonders. Maybe Team USA will stick a big middle finger to all the haters and go out and put on one hell of a show in Paul George's honour and give world basketball something to celebrate.
Many people don't believe in higher beings, but it's times like this you wish for divine intervention ...