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Pacers president Larry Bird says injury to Paul George unfortunate, but ‘could have occurred anytime, anywhere’

Aug 2, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Paul George suffered a horrific leg fracture early in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas, and the scene was so somber that the exhibition game couldn’t possibly have continued to be played under the circumstances.

It was immediately known that something serious had occurred, given the gruesome nature of George’s injury. Players were visibly shaken, and all thoughts afterward were on George, with the night’s USA Basketball proceedings and upcoming roster decisions taking a back seat, for reasons that should be completely obvious.

While seeing something like this happen on national television is a sobering reminder of just how fragile an athlete’s career can be, Pacers president Larry Bird isn’t going to overreact. In an updated statement released on Saturday, Bird acknowledged that while the injury was extremely unfortunate, there’s a possibility of it happening anytime a player steps on the floor.

“Our first thoughts are with Paul and his family,” Bird said, via an official team release. “It is way too early to speculate on his return as the No. 1 priority for everyone will be his recovery. Our initial discussions with our doctors and the doctors in Las Vegas have us very optimistic. We are hopeful at some point next week Paul will return to Indianapolis to continue his recovery.

“There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.

”We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA’s goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.

“Finally, the Pacers would like to thank our fans and the NBA community for their outreach of support in the brief amount of time since the injury occurred. It has been overwhelming and it is what makes Indiana and the NBA special.”

The key here is that players are at risk anytime they compete at the game’s highest level, and that could happen during practice at a team facility just as easily as it could in a nationally televised exhibition contest.

It won’t make George’s injury any easier to swallow, however, and there will likely be some future fallout in terms of players thinking twice about committing unnecessarily to USA Basketball duties in the summers to come.

  1. hannsta - Aug 2, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    He is right, the play wasnt overly intense and these guys would be doing pro-ams if not for USA basketball. Incredibly scary and unfortunate but I think its a bit early to be pulling guys from playing entirely.

    • chicagosports2014 - Aug 2, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Tell you one thing, I never wanna see the clip of George injury.

  2. hojo20 - Aug 2, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    This is true, it can happen anywhere at any time. I remember playing a rec league hoop game unscathed. That night my son & I were playing Nerf basketball and I sprained my ankle landing after a jump shot.

  3. kingperk123 - Aug 2, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    That’s to bad I guess David west is the leader now for the Pacers….I wish Paul a speedy recovery

    • progress2011 - Aug 2, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      ALL NON-CHAMPIONSHIP duties should be relegated to the up and coming guys….Not the cornerstones of our league!

      Allow the other guys an opportunity to shine….NBA D-League, College Elite Players considering going pro, And 1 talent and even Harlem Globe Trotters…..a plethora of those highly talented / athletic guys under a great coach like Coach K, can beat most in the world, while promoting the sport.

      The NBA’s decision to allow their premier players to play in such games is not a good “Business Decision”.

  4. deadeyedesign23 - Aug 2, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    Except the stanchions in that arena are nearly on the floor as opposed to in the crowd like at NBA arenas. Not saying he shouldn’t have played but let’s not be intellectually dishonest here.

  5. rrhoe - Aug 2, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    The NBA needs to explore better basket supports,what happened to PG is very unfortunate but it’s a wonder that it hasn’t happened more often. I’ve looked at the video and the thing that stood out to me was how close the support was to the line. These players should be able to jump and have a safe landing zone,I know what happened to PG doesn’t happen often but it did happen and it’s a viable threat during the course of any game,and this could be a simple fix.

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 2, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    Unfortunate? If I was Larry Bird my only quote would be “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

    • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 2, 2014 at 2:10 PM


    • zftrampage - Aug 3, 2014 at 9:54 PM

      hey nice car jump

  7. smackingfools - Aug 2, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Could’ve happened coming down on one of the hundreds of photographers that sit a foot away from the court too.

  8. seansull83 - Aug 2, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    The league needs to look into thing like this and other potential hazards. Someone brought up the camera men and I 100% agree! they need to be gone. I seen it one to many times in the NFL, guy trying to avoid hitting a photographer and injuring himself. The league shouldn’t stop players from playing though. If he wants to rep his country and play the game he loves, let him. Again can happen any time anywhere, ask Blake about his back.

  9. amehta256 - Aug 2, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    I saw a player down and feared it was Rose…. Paul is an up and coming star and this just set Indiana back a couple if yrs.

    • chicagosports2014 - Aug 2, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      Naw he cool!

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