Don’t count Paul George among those gleaning big-picture concerns from his injury playing for Team USA. In his first public appearance since gruesomely breaking his leg on national television and sparking a debate on the viability of NBA players on the international stage, George deflected blame from USA Basketball and espoused optimism of his road to recovery.
George spoke at a press conference earlier today from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. His voice is the latest – and most important, obviously – Team USA member’s to touch on the fluke nature of George’s injury and express support for the national program. The Indiana Pacers superstar even suggested that he’d take USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo up on his recent promise of a roster spot on the 2016 Olympic team.
George said he does not blame USA Basketball for the injury.
“Freak accidents happen,” he said. “USA Basketball doesn’t deserve any criticism from this.”
In fact, George said the 2016 Olympics are a possibility: “Absolutely, it’s in Brazil.”
Likely Team USA starter Steph Curry recently told Dime that George’s injury doesn’t change things for he and his teammates.
“I think we’ll be fine, just — you know any time you play basketball there’s a risk you can get hurt,” Curry said. “That was such freak deal that, you can’t — we gotta try our best not to have it in our minds when we play.”
Fellow presumptive starter Derrick Rose, he of multiple major knee surgeries in the past two years, recently said that he “has no fears” of injury. And though many assumed that Kevin Durant’s abrupt departure from Team USA last week was in part due to a hardly coincidental heightened sense of health concerns, the reigning MVP and those close to him insist otherwise.
There are certainly those in NBA circles weary of players competing on the international stage. If George, Curry, Rose, Durant, and seemingly all other members of Team USA are any indication, though, the players themselves aren’t among that vocal minority.
Though George admitted that he’s had an understandably difficult time since the injury, he also lauded the support system in place around him. And despite all previous reports indicating that George will miss the entirety of 2014-2015, he’s holding out hope for a return late in the season.
“I plan on making a full recovery,” he said. “… It will make me stronger.”
“But I would love to play this year. I know there’s a possibility that I won’t be back this year, I’m aware of that,” George said.
Regardless of whether or not George makes a miraculous return to the court this season, he’s already made clear that he intends to make a difference. And it’s that attitude combined with obvious drive and rare physical gitfs that will no doubt have him back better than ever eventually.
What do you think?
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