National team coach Mike Krzyzewski often calls USA Basketball a brotherhood, and during no time since he took over in 2006 has that familial aspect been more important than now. Friday’s devastating injury to Indiana Pacers All-Star and likely Team USA starter Paul George has been used by some by some in league circles as means to further the stance that NBA players shouldn’t be used on the international stage. Despite a growing number of key voices propagating that agenda and the lingering effects of George’s injury, ESPN reports that all 19 candidates for the national program’s World Cup squad remain committed to making the team.
The news is courtesy of ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein. Chief justification for the players’ position is a sense of duty and allegiance to George.
Despite recovering from the shock of Paul George’s catastrophic injury, USA Basketball’s remaining 19 players in contention for the inaugural FIBA Basketball World Cup are committed to keeping their names in the hat for one of the final 12 roster spots, according to sources.
Although there is undoubtedly heightened concern within the group after watching George suffer a horrendous compound leg fracture late in Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage, sources told ESPN.com that various Team USA players have talked among themselves about the need to stay together, with showing support for George ranking as one of their primary motivations.
“No one is pulling out,” one source told ESPN.com this past weekend.
Added one general manager who has a player on the Team USA squad: “No one on this team wants to walk away because that would seem unfair to Paul. If there is any fallout from this injury, it may not be felt until the next time invites [for Team USA] go out.”
This comes as no surprise given the current generation of stars’ pride for USA Basketball and its overwhelming support of George in the wake of his injury. And even if the latter basis weighs more on the players’ choice to continue on than the former one, it’s still further confirmation of the brotherhood that Krzyzewski and chairman Jerry Colangelo have fostered in their overhaul of the national program.
Team USA was to make its first cut of players after Friday’s scrimmage, but has altered its timeline due to George’s misfortune. According to Windhorst and Stein, the USAB braintrust is expected to relieve several players before an August 13 exhibition in Chicago and is debating how many players to carry after it for the team’s remainder of training camp. Team USA will depart for Spain on August 23, and Colangelo must submit a final, 12-man roster to FIBA officials by August 29.
That the World Cup candidates will continue with the national team is of extra importance given a recent statement by NBA commissioner Adam Silver concerning the issue at hand. While conceding that the topic of NBA players taking part in international basketball will be discussed when the competition committee meets in September, Silver said he doesn’t “anticipate a major shift in the NBA’s participation” on the global stage. Those words would be hollow, of course, if any of Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and company withdrew from consideration for Team USA.
The NBA is a family, and Krzyzewski has extended that branch to include Team USA. That all 19 remaining players in the USAB pool want to honor George by carrying on with the national team is just further confirmation of that increasingly obvious fact.
Should the players continue with Team USA?
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