SBD/August 5, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Staying Committed To Int'l Competition Despite Injury To Pacers' Paul George

Paul George's injury has not led players to leave Team USA
Pacers F Paul George's leg injury during an intrasquad USA Basketball game on Friday "won't change the NBA's longstanding commitment" to international tournaments, but the issue is "certain to be on the agenda" at the league’s next Competition Committee and BOG meetings, according to John Powers of the BOSTON GLOBE. That is because, as with the NHL and the Winter Games, "the clubs take all the risk" while the IOC and FIBA "get a superstar tournament for free." However, the NBA gets a "priceless global branding showcase every other year," and players such as Spurs G Manu Ginobili and Bulls F Pau Gasol "become national heroes." But if players "get injured, the clubs take the hit." Meanwhile, there is "no argument about how important the NBA has become to the Olympic tournament since the Dream Team showed up." All but two of the 12 countries in the '12 London Games sported NBA players and "half of them used at least three, with 20 of the 30 clubs contributing" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/5). ESPN.com's Windhorst & Stein cited sources as saying that despite George's injury, the players in contention to make the U.S. team for the FIBA World Cup are "committed to keeping their names in the hat for one of the final 12 roster spots" (ESPN.com, 8/4).  

POINT, COUNTERPOINT: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes in "any sports organization, a fundamental gap exists between the marketing arm and the performance side." But the "continuing efforts of almost all sports to promote their product internationally and to extend players beyond the already rigorous toll that the regular seasons and playoffs exact have to be called into question." Cowlishaw: "None of this stuff is working." Basketball players are "not going to sit still in the summer" and "injuries happen." But until organizations such as FIBA are "prepared to reimburse NBA teams for the true costs of their losses, then the league needs to reconsider these agreements it enters into that do so little to promote their product with such incredible risks at stake" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/5). However, the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "The fact that a guy got hurt in a game when he could have got hurt in the same way at an exhibition in Muncie, Indiana, shouldn’t change anything" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/4). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said basketball players "play everywhere during the offseason -- they play in L.A. in gyms, they play in China." He added, "This was a freak accident, it’s never happened before. Who know if it's will ever happen again. The Olympics are too big and too important for this country for these guys to back off because of this one injury” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/4). In Oakland, Marcus Thompson II writes the George injury leaves the Pacers "in a bad spot," but "those are the breaks." It is "hard to feel bad for NBA owners since they get every other break." Thompson: "They can suck it up." If a team "wants to bar its star player from international competition, pay him to sit out" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 8/5). 

ALL ABOUT THE MIGHTY DOLLAR: In Philadelphia, John Smallwood writes he can "certainly understand" why Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban and other owners "might want more say in their players' involvement" in int'l competitions. But "understand that Cuban's issue isn't necessarily about NBA players risking injury or fatigue by playing in FIBA or Olympic tournaments." Cuban's complaint is "about NBA players risking injury in these events without the NBA owners and players getting a sizable share of the profits." George's injury has "put the spotlight back on international competition, but would it be any less devastating to the Pacers if he had suffered it while playing in an NBA World Cup?" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/5).
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