Representing your country on the basketball court sounds good in theory.
Bulls guard Derrick Rose made a successful, semiofficial return to the court Friday in a USA Basketball scrimmage. But the overwhelming storyline was a gruesome broken leg suffered by Indiana Pacers star Paul George that will leave everyone associated with the NBA questioning the value of using its players in international competitions.
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George tried to block a fastbreak lay in by James Harden early in the fourth quarter. George's foot landed awkwardly at the base of the basketball support and his right leg snapped below the knee. Replays of the injury were stomach-churning.
The game in Las Vegas was called off with 9:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. While George was helped by medical personnel, the other players sat in stunned disbelief, many with towels over their faces.
This incident is bound to stir up a touchy subject for NBA owners: Why risk the health of their players in international competitions?
It will be a miracle if George plays this season and NBA fans can only hope the 6-foot-9 forward someday returns to his old form. Insurance will help cover his salary, but the Pacers' season has essentially been ruined.
The shock of George's injury will linger over USA Basketball for a few days. The national team is scheduled to take two weeks off, then reconvene in Chicago on Aug. 14. An exhibition game vs. Brazil is set for Aug. 16 at the United Center.
It's obviously too soon to know if any players will consider dropping off the team, but this injury will certainly cause players to think twice before volunteering for national team duty in the future.
"Everything's on hold and it should be," Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters in Las Vegas. "It would be so inappropriate for us to talk about anything else when there is an injury like this.
"Anything can happen anywhere. Tonight it happened during a basketball game, and we need to take care of that. We need to take care of right now appropriately."
Earlier in the night, Rose demonstrated for a television audience that reports he was looking like his old self in practice were true. The Bulls guard has played in just 10 games over the past two NBA seasons due to a pair of knee injuries.
Rose was in the starting lineup for the Blue squad and wasted no time getting on the board. He came off a screen, exploded to his left and easily scooped it in past DeMarcus Cousins. A few seconds later, Denver's Kenneth Faried grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Rose, who pulled the ball behind his head for one of his patented two-hand slams.
His third bucket was another flashback to vintage Rose. Following a made basket, Rose gathered a quick outlet pass and rocketed all the way to the rim in a few seconds. He also had a nice steal, leaping high to snag a long, fastbreak pass.
In the third quarter, Rose added 2 free throws to finish with 8 points. He committed a couple of turnovers just before the injury ended the game.
The White team, led by Bulls coach Tim Thibodeau, led 81-71 when the game was called.
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