Last night, Indiana Pacers superstar swingman Paul George gruesomely broke his leg in a Team USA scrimmage, effectively ending his 2014-2015 NBA season. The injury was reminiscent of the broken leg suffered by former Louisville guard Kevin Ware almost a year and a half ago. The injury immediately raised concerns over how close the stanchion was to the baseline and whether this is the tipping point that ultimately ends superstars playing for Team USA.
The only true concern should be for Paul George. Although George’s max extension is just about to kick in at the start of the upcoming season, it’s disheartening to see such a young, talented player come down that sort of injury. It would be awful, regardless of how talented he is. But with the league just getting Derrick Rose back from his heap of injuries, it’s tough to see another one of the league’s most exciting and likable players to go down. The injury will have far reaching implications. Let’s examine them in order of importance:
Everyone is hoping and praying that George returns stronger than ever, but that seems unlikely. Yes, George will recover. There’s no exact timetable for his return, but he’ll probably miss next season. Will he regain his explosiveness? No one knows right now. George is only 24 years old and was just starting to enter his prime. Even though the injury is not similar to those suffered by Derrick Rose, the situation seems eerily similar. An extremely young superstar set to be one of LeBron’s rivals loses an entire season due to injury, coming off of a career year. Everyone will be rooting for George to recover from his injury and continue to be a star. Whether he will be return to the league as a top player is uncertain though. We can only hope.
Losing George for the season dooms the Pacers next season. Going into the season, even without Stephenson, the Pacers were considered one of the favorites in the more balanced East. But losing George too puts the Pacers on the brink of missing the playoffs. Stephenson and George were the two primary scorers for Indiana last season, and without them, the core of George Hill, David West, and Roy Hibbert will have to do things they aren’t able to do. They’ll be expected to carry the offense, and that is asking a bit much from them.
It’s obviously a huge blow to the league. The league lost Derrick Rose for the past two seasons, and Kobe for last season. George is one of the best young players the league has to offer, and despite a few stories and rumors at the end of the last season, he is also one of the most likable players in the league.
George’s injury will undoubtedly cause owners and GMs to try to keep their players from playing any extra games, like those for one’s country. Larry Bird released a statement mentioning that the Pacers support Team USA and that the injury could have happened anywhere, and that might be true, but most owners will probably side with Mark Cuban on this one. And of course, it goes without saying that Team USA will miss Paul George’s ability. Everyone knows he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the world and has an offensive game that has grown immensely in the past few years.
The East was starting to look very interesting after LeBron went to Cleveland. With the Pacers back minus Lance, D-Rose back on a rejuvenated Bulls team, LeBron back in Cleveland, Miami still there, and Washington and Toronto on the rise, the East looked more formidable than last season. But losing George instantly ends any chance of Indiana winning the conference. And it also eliminates one of the best budding matchups (if not rivalry) between LeBron and Paul George. The East is considerably weaker than the West, and losing George, who has consistently been the best player in the conference not named LeBron for the past two years, is awful.
Here is the video, if you really want to see it. It is gruesome and I would not recommend watching it, but since many people will want to see exactly what happened, here it is. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though:
Lastly, let’s not forget what really happened: one of the league’s best young players, who already signed a max extension, went full speed and gave everything he had to make a play on defense.I n an intra-squad scrimmage. On a team where he was already a definite starter. That’s as good as it gets. Paul George is the consummate professional. Get well. We’re all rooting for you.