Blogtable: The price of patriotism

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Risk/reward and the USA | Indy’s dilemma | Pick a center


> Paul George’s injury and playing for the USA: Is whatever risk involved worth whatever payoff for the NBA and its fans?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: In a better world for NBA owners, their players would compete for Team USA only when they’re free agents. In a better world for the players, they would participate only when they’re protected with a full-length, maximum salary contract (like George). So that dilemma remains. Meanwhile, forget about any “perfect” world — even going with a 22-and-under format would seem exploitative, exposing players to risk while they’re on their rookie deals, possibly jeopardizing future earning power. I don’t think the risk for either side is worth it — growing the game globally is good for business but filling the stands in Indianapolis 41 times plus playoffs is, too. As for fans, it’s a no-brainer: Give up a few weeks of diversion in alternating summers for greater peace of mind about the guys you enjoy for seven to nine months every year. Bring on the bubble wrap!

ABOVE: Paul George in his Vegas hospital room with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: You’re not playing for the NBA, but for the United States. I’m not going to set a level of patriotism that anyone else must meet. It is up to the individual. But I don’t see any difference in the Pacers losing Paul George now from the Bulls losing Derrick Rose in the first weeks of the season or Blake Griffin being injured during a preseason game. Injuries happen. They are accidents.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I’ve had mixed emotions about this for a long time. Yes, I want NBA players to be able to participate. The players have really exhibited genuine exuberance about playing for USA Basketball since Jerry Colangelo’s and Coach K’s sea-change, and the experience can only broaden their horizons as Americans. The players’ involvement is worth it for the NBA, but not so much for its teams when a star player is injured — and at this level it’s always a star player. Even if rules were put in place to where, say, NBA teams were paid for the use of their “borrowed” players, it wouldn’t solve the problem of that team missing a star player during the season.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comDefinitely not for the fans. Most would rather see their team win the first game of the first round of the playoffs instead of the gold medal in the World Cup, and the same probably goes with the Olympics. And it’s obviously not worth it for the teams on the court; Mark Cuban nails it. But it is worth it to the NBA in other ways. Who knows how many future players came/will come to the game because they watched NBA players against their country or maybe even in their country. At the bottom line, the game is better because Team USA is sending stars.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: In the name of Magic, Michael, Charles and Larry and the rest of the Dream Team, I have to say it’s worth the risk. As long as your favorite player comes home healthy, it’s absolutely the right thing to do, representing your country in international competition. The risk of serious injury has certainly been there forever, since the Dream Team. The reality of it didn’t hit home until last Friday night in Las Vegas, when in a flash we finally put a face on that risk. I do understand where Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is coming from, as far as the amount NBA teams invest in their superstars and having to incur all of the risk only to see the IOC and FIBA reap a ton of the benefits during competition summers. But you just cannot ask someone to turn their back on the flag, not in this instance and not ever.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: That’s one serious injury in 23 years of NBA players suiting up for the U.S. National Team. (Pau Gasol missed 22 games after breaking his foot with Spain in 2006.) If basketball players don’t play basketball in the summer, they’re not going to be very good basketball players. The Olympics and World Cup are the highest level of hoops we’ll see in the offseason, and those experiences have often been springboards for big years in the league. So, yeah, before you even get into marketing and the growth of the game, the risk is worth the rewards, though I do agree with Mark Cuban that the league should have a more tangible piece of the pie if it’s supplying the best players in these tournaments.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I get the outcry over George’s injury — he’s one of the best players in the NBA and somebody who is impossible to replace. But I don’t understand all the questions about the basket stanchion at UNLV being a few inches shorter form the baseline than usual. Nobody had a serious injury playing on the same basket at summer league, right? The hard truth that nobody wants to accept is that injuries are going to happen. Sometimes during the NBA season, sometimes off the court. When Kevin Love broke his hand doing push-ups, I don’t recall anyone suggesting a ban on push-ups. If you can’t risk the injury, don’t play. But I think the majority of guys will still want to play high-level competition while representing their country and be willing to take that risk.

48 Comments

  1. good luck, I hope he recovers as soon as possible

  2. dejjan84 says:

    POP(Gregg)CORN ON SALE!

  3. Karlo Garcia says:

    The risk involved is worth for the NBA & its fans. Hindsight is 20/20

  4. xyz says:

    Don’t even see a point in this discussion.

    All our thoughts should be with PG who sad to say from the look of this probably is not going to be ever able to play the game the same as before. My prayers are for you to get well entirely

  5. Anders says:

    Funny to hear this discussion from the US angle. Is it worth it? What are the tangible results? It is about globalization of the sport etc. etc.
    To me it is not. I come from a country where everybody plays football (Soccer) and yes, everybody dreams about playing for some big club somewhere. But the pinnacle is playing for the national team. Not because of the money, not because of the globalization or what it means to others. What it means to that individual to represent your country. It is so deeply anchored in us that it is almost similar to ask why do you love your kids? …ehh.. I just do.

  6. Holland speaking says:

    It has been said before. In almost every other sport the world cup or the olympics are the biggest events and you want the best players there. So you should include the NBA players. It’s made it more attractive for international players to come to the NBA, because if you can play for your country while participating in the best league season in and out, you become a better player. So it’s good for the game. Not letting them play is like not letting Tiger Woods play the British Open, because he plays his tournaments in the US and not in England. It’s a tad annoying when people say it’s about the NBA. It’s about globalisation of the game!!!! Not just about the US, there are also lovers of the game in Europe, for whom such tournaments might be the only chance to see the players in real life instead of on a screen.

  7. I don't have a name says:

    You can say – Don’t play international games because you can get injured. Then you can say – Don’t play league games because you can get injured. Then you can say – Don’t train because you can get injured. It would get to the point where players just wrap themselves in cotton wool and bubble wrap and do nothing because they might get injured. Then they stop being players and the game is no more.

  8. thespectator says:

    its about the dollars, period

  9. TTKIN says:

    Injuries happen no matter what meaning, there is no such thing as a perfect system. Personally, I feel we already have the best system in place (although I do agree with Cubes that the teams should get a piece of the pie).

  10. Charly says:

    Americans… Everything’s about the money, the return on investment, the advantages the nba will get out of it… Can’t you just imagine for a second what it represents for those players, getting out of the nba basketball for a minute, playing with the very best players on the court against the very best players from elsewhere. They don’t HAVE to do it but they still come every summer… They give up to 9 months a year to the NBA… let them enjoy what’s left of it the way they intend to. And I also don’t think they do it for the flag, just think about what it represents to live the olympics and you’ll realise how dumb you are for even comparing that with a regular season (yeah regular…) or even the chase for a nba title

  11. olbl says:

    the price of patriotism ?
    injury happens, stupid paper again.
    What about the price of pathetism writer

  12. Time4NewRule says:

    Have the stanchions moved to a regulated measurement away from the court. Collisions under the net would diminish.

  13. dREDd5150 says:

    PG13 with a scared duck.

    GET WELL SOON PG.

  14. JJUBEL says:

    Injuries happen….

  15. Marco29 says:

    It is a pitty this is the only question of this week’s blogtable where we don’t get the reactions of the international writers, could have been interesting.
    For the NBA it is clearly worth it when you see the rise in attention it got worldwide since the Dream Team.
    Even for the teams involved it is interesting because their players get to hang out with the elite amog the players and can see how these guys approach the game and the preparation. George benefited from it in the past, Cousins would if he makes the roster, etc…
    Anf yes, injuries happen. Where and when they happen doesn’t make a big difference, the team will still have to play without its best player.

  16. Another Cavs Fan says:

    That injury could have happened anywhere.
    It was a freak injury. Could have happened on or off the court even.
    It’s devastating, but don’t blame it on international basketball lol.
    For God’s sakes it happened during an exhibition scrimmage, wasn’t even a real game…

  17. Mladen says:

    Patriotism is when you believe that your country is better than all others just because YOU were born there.

    Patriotism promotion only serves to keep poor people poor

    • JPENN says:

      So Mladen, all of the soldiers that fight for their respective countries, that have patriotism, they’re fighting because they’ve all got money and serve to keep poor people poor? Patriotism is when you’re proud of the country you were born in/are in. Even if you weren’t born there, if you became a citizen and are proud of what the country is about, and the direction it’s going. Therefore, it’s not about thinking the country is better, but hopes that winning in whatever the competition is, whether sports, economically, or even in worse cases, war, that the country will be a representative of all those things that make it great. The definition you speak is not of patriotism but ethnocentrism

      • Mladen says:

        Actually, especially considering wars in last 20-30 years, patriotism is heavy misused to get in war to protect rich people access to oil and several other comodities. Yes, soldiers die believing they are patriots, but final results is – more money for rich people in USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia. So – patriots, hate each other until you finally start to understand that your hate for others and “love” for your country is a tool for other peoples goals. National sports are important tool to make you feel proud for something you are not part of – if USA wins the World Cup – it doesn’t have anything to do with Americans, it has to do with skills of the players.

  18. Paul says:

    This is the age old issue of freedom vs. security. When bad things happen, people talk about giving up freedoms to have more security. As a citizen, I want to live in a free society, but I don’t want to be attacked. NBA players (and owners) want the freedom to be involved with world competition, but they don’t want to get injured. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, but you can find a balance of freedom and security that you can live with. This injury may shift the NBA’s balance a little bit, but probably not too much. It’s just one injury and one player, albeit an important player.

  19. bsinned says:

    Watching the Dream Team in ´92 made me an NBA fan. In germany the NBA is small, really small compared to Soccer, Racing or even Handball and most of my friends don´t even know any actual players (“LeBron who? Ah, that´s the boxer-guy, right”?)
    Saying NBA players shouldn´t participate the Olympics is like saying guys like Neymar, Messi ect. shouldn´t play for their countries at the World Championship.

    • fiba rules says:

      i’m french, i’m probably around the same age as you and i’m sharing all of your thoughts !!! … a bit of a shame the writer restrain themselves to team usa as there’s so much international player of the highest level in the nba right now … americans just can’t understand how important international competitions are for us, they probably don’t even know about the joachim noah’s bashing by half the french sports fans for not answering the national team calls which is one of the biggest topic in french basketball these days (saddly)

  20. guyoninternet says:

    the nba should get paid, the teams should get paid, and the players should get paid for the usa participating in the fiba world cup. in soccer, i know that the champions of the world cup (the german soccer federation (which is not exactly the same as the german soccer league, but it’s related)) gets money from fifa for germany having won the world cup (and the players get a lot of that money; not sure about the clubs they play for, though, especially if they play outside germany). regardless of how exactly it works, there should be a way for the league, team and players to make money off of participating in the world cup. even the losers of the soccer world cup make money for their national federations, and i think the players get paid too. The difference is that, in basketball, nba and fiba are separate. in soccer, every country’s national federation is part of fifa. but there’s gotta be a way of sorting things out. the money made on the [basketball] world cup should be spread around to any and all who have a stake in it.

  21. A.J. says:

    All these ridiculous comments. No, they’re not “paid” for it, per se, but they more than make up for it by being paid in marketing and branding. So they indeed are being paid, albeit not directly. By and large they’re not doing it for any patriotic purposes. That’s every bit as naive as the majority of boneheads in the media that honestly 100% believed every word of that touchy-feely bogus ghostwritten promotional marketing essay that James rubber stamped for Sports Illustrated.

    The comments about how he got hurt are foolish, as well. As are some of the dopier media comments above. It’s a legitimate complaint and a serious issue about the amateurish basket stanchion UNLV used. Mark Price ruined his knee in the prime of his career because his knee got tangled up in those idiotic rolling advertisement things they used to have in the tables on the side baselines. Now they don’t use those anymore.

    I smell George’s agent, the NBA and UNLV hammering out a quiet out of court settlement.

  22. maybe you should stop making fixed series NBA. Bad karma is really bad….

  23. dustydreamnz says:

    This is an easy one. Agree with most, injuries can happen any time.

  24. Chrys says:

    I don’t even see why ask the question. Blineburry and Whitaker’s points seems to me like the obvious answers.

  25. venjo says:

    Just for the fans and true love of the games or sports in general:

    Let the BEST players on Earth play the game at the highest level. Think about promoting the true nature & spirit of sports & competitions, and not about MONEY (e.g. lost of MONEY…less MONEY…no MONEY…or anything but for the greed or love of MONEY!!!) If not don’t talk about the Sports and just talk/focus about MONEY!

    Injury is always there and part of the risk of playing the games, may happen anytime or anywhere (i.e. in all types of sports with physical contact).

    Bottom line: let’s think about the love of Sports!!!!

  26. Web Editor says:

    Well we didn’t heard any loud fuss when Neymar Jr got injured in Brazil (Broken Vertibra), a million dollar player got injured playing for his country — Barca didn’t have any BAD thoughts about their player choosing to represent the pride of his flag.

    People only remember when something bad happened, but does anybody remember the year that KD, Love, Chandler, Westbrook and the other guys won the gold in FIBA and came back in the NBA season with hunger? That USA team came back with better experience and played in the NBA to compete with the so called BIG 3 (EX) of the Miami Heat.

    Business is business, you lose some, you win some.

  27. Mark says:

    The risk of injury is there whenever you play basketball. It’s unfortunate but it could happen at any time, and I think that it’s worth the risk.

  28. Bartholomew says:

    Of course it is worth it. Lots of people who play professionally in countries all over the world play as much and sometimes even more than Paul George, yet they still play for their countries, and do they complain? Injuries happen; they are inevitable. NBA players should not have an exception if other players around the world play for their countries as well.

    • Jeff says:

      Stuff happens, it’s just a shame that it happened to a guy almost at the peak of his game. Not much you can do, could happen walking down the street. Can’t wrap players up in cotton wool when they aren’t playing. Look at Rose, he’s had two freak accidents a year apart and seems ok. ‘Iron knuckles ‘ Kevin Love injured himself doing pushups. I am amazed there aren’t more injuries from stupid decisions (as I see plenty of that – ask ‘Shaqtin’ a fool’ hall of famer McGee) after all they are young men with lots of money and an I’m indestructable attitude, and that is normal for men their age. Once they hit forty they will find out how indestructable they weren’t. Part of life, no point crying over spilt milk.

    • mmmmmmm says:

      no its not, see the point is now he is in the hospital, and NBA players play 82 games a year, people dream of coming to the NBA from other countries. when you get an injury it holds you back and can ruin your carrer. That is why they shouldn’t play, we have our own leauge, It is one of the best leugues ever and it is much more important than the USA team. It is fans united. It is the USA team where dreams happen. Dreams from all over the world. And to make from countries like Spain, China, and Russia is a dream, and this FIBA cup shouldn’t ruin it.

      • Carlo says:

        1) It’s “league”.

        2) NBA is not a “dream” for everybody. It was not up to the 80′s – before the “showtime” Lakers – and it’s not anymore now and a lot of the best int’l players do prefer the best European leagues (Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece).

        And it IS about money.
        The worst NBA player earns much more than the best stars of other int’l sports (apart soccer).
        When Popovich rested Spurs’ stars last year, Stern fined them for 250,000$ for not “honouring the show”.
        NBA introduced stupid rules like the “smile” or condones walk or offensive fouls, all in the interest of “show” (= money).

  29. Love for the game says:

    I think a few have nailed it – injuries do happen. No matter where. It is crazy to think Paul George only got injured because he tried to play for the National team.

    What bothers me is the talk about money. Of course there might be some loss of money if a good player doesn’t play. But there isn’t a guarantee for some extra money when he plays either. It’s not like the Pacers won’t make any money now. They will make money, no matter what. It’s just the more cash some billionaire guys apparently can’t live without.

    Players get paid a lot of money to play for their team. But does it mean they have to be controlled everywhere? Are they workers or are they owned like slaves?
    It’s like my boss forbidding me to do some sport or have some barbeque because I might get injured and can’t work for a while. OK, I don’t get paid millions, but does it actually make a difference? A team owner doesn’t mind cashing some extra money if a international guy is doing good or guys are loved outside of the US.

    If I were a player and had the chance to play for my country with and against the best in the world, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would even ask for a clause in my contract that “allows” me to reach my goals outside of “work” if needed. But actually it should be a matter of course.
    I’m sorry to see the love for the game is only a business thing now.

    • Jeff says:

      I am pretty sure clubs insure against loss of such players

    • mmmmmmm says:

      Yes exactly, You would do it because you have the chance to you you’re one of the great USA bball players, but at the cost of an injury to ruin your carrer? It is their decision.

  30. Fan of the Game says:

    I have mixed emotions on this situation. On one hand part of me wants USA’s best basketball players on the court because the International Teams now are much better than the have been in the past. Then on the other hand I can understand the owners dilemma, a lot of money is invested and plenty of moves are made over several years to become an NBA Championship contender. No owner would want all that work to hang in the balance because a star player didn’t get the necessary rest in the off season and now has heighten his chances for injury during the season. Even though the International teams are getting better they’re still quite a few steps behind a Team USA with NBA all-stars (just look to Coach K’s 62-1 record as USA basketball head as proof). I think this might be an opportunity for players with less than NBA ready skills to carve out a basketball career and maybe use it as spring board to get a shot at the NBA. At least then USA basketball will be making careers instead of putting careers in jeopardy. The team would have more time gel because for those players USA Basketball would be their primary focus. I know the strategy would need to be tweaked, but maybe USA Basketball should consider it.

  31. harriethehawk says:

    As a fan, I enjoy USA Basketball and the Olympics because I look forward to seeing the BEST play with the BEST. I also like seeing unlikely things happen, like Durant and Harden playing together, or Kyrie Irving and Damien Lillard playing together. I like seeing someone like Cousins, who didn’t make All-Star, play alongside Anthony Davis. And the players do it for many reasons, money not being one of them. However it shakes out, many stars bowed out this summer and will most likely continue to bow out in 2016 due to the injury factor. Cause let’s say Al Horford (who missed most of last season) was picked to play this summer, and got hurt. Us Hawks fans wouldn’t see him play AGAIN, which would really stink and that also could threaten his career. I really don’t blame them no matter what each player decides to do. The patriotic piece? Hmmm.. I’m excited for Kyle Korver and Kevin Durant. And I can’t wait until the games start again this month. Yeah USA Basketball!!! Let’s Go Hawks! Thunder Up!

  32. A.J. says:

    Also, what in the hell is Floyd Mayweather doing appearing in a hospital Twitter photo with Paul George? Never mind Israel and Hamas, there should be a permanent cease-fire on athlete and celebrity egomania.

  33. A.J. says:

    Patriotism, my blowhole. It’s entirely about individual marketing and branding, to be seen on a world stage and be perceived as one of the world’s best players. The flags are a facade. Never mind the fact that some of the guys on that team aren’t even remotely close to be among the world’s best players. For George, it backfired right through his tibia.

  34. Carlo says:

    Blinebury correct to the point as ever.

    George injured during training, not a game. He could’ve injured by playing in his backyard.

    Strictly “game related” injuries are those coming from extra workload and surely the NBA preseason+82games season+playoffs workload is MUCH worse than a few nat’l team work now and then.
    The obvious difference is: they’re paid to play NBA and not to play Nat’l.

    Anyway, there are sports (see rugby) where every game has a high risk of injury. Nevertheless, players do their best to be in the nat’l team.
    And, by the way, they’re paid 1/50th of an NBA player.

  35. ko0kiE says:

    it’s worth for the players and the nba as a whole …

    • jay says:

      I think Americans are “cowards” they always try to find ways not to join. And if they don’t win they will say that the players are not there. So what’s the problem? It just truly shows that they are not “loyal” to there country. If there’s a way there’s a will. Americans will always stay as Losers!

      • Michael says:

        The players have a choice to participate if invited. A player saying no is not a coward in any way.