Damian Lillard: ‘I haven’t thought about stepping away’ from USA Basketball in wake of injury to Paul George
Aug 3, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
The horrific leg fracture suffered by Paul George at Friday night’s USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas has raised questions as to the future of the NBA allowing its stars to participate in international competition.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks it’s insane for league owners to risk their investments like that, and has felt that way for many years. While teams and owners may use George’s injury as a catalyst to have a serious dialogue on the subject, it remains to be seen whether or not the players themselves will have a change of heart.
Damian Lillard, who is participating in USA Basketball this summer, says that we can count him among those who have no intention of abandoning the international competition anytime soon.
“Any time you have superstar in this league go down like that, it’s something you don’t ever want to see again,” Lillard said to CSNNW.com via phone Saturday night. “It was tough to see, very emotional. Unreal, but out of respect for P.G. and his family, I think we just need to stay away from that topic. We don’t want them reliving that terrible incident.” …
Despite George’s gruesome leg fracture that will likely keep him out the entire 2014-15 season, Lillard says he has given thought of removing himself from consideration for Team USA’s 12-man roster headed to the World Cup in Spain at the end of the month.
“Nah, It’s a part of the game unfortunately,” he said. “It’s a risk any time you step out on the basketball court. I haven’t thought about stepping away [from Team USA]. I’ll stay in.”
Lillard’s response is extremely level-headed, especially coming so quickly after the incident that he was on the court to see happen in person.
But as Cuban and others have noted, players have nothing to risk because their NBA contracts are 100 percent guaranteed against injury — whether it happens in international play, or in a pickup game somewhere else.
Until that part changes, the majority of players already involved with USA Basketball will likely share Lillard’s stance. The only thing that might change that is players choosing to value their NBA legacies above all else.
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