USA Basketball Showcase Ends In Heartbreak, Paul George Injured
Las Vegas, Nevada
In one moment, a celebratory Friday night capping a week of fun and intrigue at training camp ended in heartbreak. Early in the fourth quarter of the USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center, Paul George went down with a serious injury to his right leg.
George’s Blue Team trailed by 10 and he was contesting a layup by James Harden when he suffered the injury.
The Indiana Pacers star, who was a lock to make the USA Men’s National Team, had to be taken off the court on a stretcher and coach Mike Krzyzewski announced that the intrasquad exhibition would end with 9:33 to play.
“The main thing was the concern for Paul,” Krzyzewski said. “We felt at that point that we should not go forward.”
Players weren’t available for comment after the game. Krzyzewski and managing director Jerry Colangelo met with all the players in a locker room and agreed that there wasn’t much to discuss other than their hopes for a speedy recovery.
“We need to just take a step back before we do anything at all,” Colangelo said. “Our first concern, our primary concern is Paul George.”
There was no injury report available immediately after the game. The rest of the team gathered together while doctors and medical staff tended to George, and Anthony Davis put his arms around members of George’s family.
George’s mother and father were at the game and by his side in the aftermath of his injury.
All week, the discussions had been about certain players’ development and getting closer to a final roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The Showcase was going to provide more clues to that, too, but after George went down it was the last thing on anyone’s mind.
“It seems so unimportant in the big scheme of things when you have something like this take place,” Colangelo said. “It puts things in perspective.”
Arguably the highlight of training camp had been the post-practice one-on-one games between Durant, Harden and George. To go from that on Thursday to the scene that unfolded on Friday night is something the players were still trying to grasp, because whether they were wearing Blue or White they were all USA teammates.
“There’s a brotherhood in the NBA,” Krzyzewski said. “To me, in moments like this a family or brotherhood shows its heart and it shows its depth. I thought that’s what our players showed.”
TAKING AN OATH
At halftime, nearly 200 people marched out onto the Thomas & Mack Center court and together pledged their service to the United States Army. It was part of USA Basketball’s Hoops for Troops program and continued efforts to support the armed forces, which also included courtside seats for a few men and women who serve at the nearby Nellis Air Force Base.
The oath received perhaps the loudest cheers of the night and a standing ovation from the crowd.
Before George’s injury put everyone’s focus elsewhere, the Blue and White teams were putting on a solid performance. Blue trailed most of the game as Harden led White with 15 points and DeMarcus Cousins finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Damian Lillard put White up by 17 at halftime with a buzzer-beating bank shot from three-quarter court. However, the score tightened in the third quarter thanks to DeMar DeRozan, who finished with 16 points, and plays like a slick alley-oop pass from Stephen Curry to Anthony Davis.
White led 81-71 and it had the makings of a terrific final quarter until the building went silent with George’s injury.