NEW YORK — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a press conference at Madison Square Garden before the exhibition game between United States and the Dominican Republic to discuss the collaboration between the NBA, USA Basketball and the Department of Defense.
“Roughly 10 years ago, through [Coach Mike Krzyzewski], USA Basketball began a Hoops for Troops program with our United States Military,” said Silver. “[The] General and Coach K have both West Point and Duke University in common, and then over time that Hoops for Troops program was brought to the NBA and has turned into a commitment to service in which the NBA has partnered with our military, all 30 teams, to perform community service in our communities throughout the league.
“All 30 teams are now involved in it, and in fact, around Veterans Day this season, all of our teams have commitments to work together with military bases in their communities.”
“I like to think that this partnership — and that’s what it is, is a partnership — brings together members of the best military in the world with members of the best basketball teams in the world,” said General Dempsey.
“I mean, I think it’s actually quite a remarkable partnership and one that makes sense to America because thankfully the military enjoys a great esteem among the American people, as do these athletes, so if we can bond together and commit to give back, I think that we’ll be doing a lot of good, not just for ourselves, collaboratively, but also for the country, and that’s our goal.”
Silver also addressed the participation of NBA players in international events, a hot topic in the wake of Paul George‘s recent injury. “The answer is there is a big risk without enormous financial reward,” he said, “but I’m sitting next to our highest ranking military official, so I’m almost embarrassed to be talking about the risks that our players face as compared to what our men and women in uniform face, and only reiterate that ultimately it’s a personal decision for these players.
“And I should point out, it’s not just U.S. players we’re referring to. Probably collectively we have close to 50 NBA players participating in this World Cup on behalf of their national teams. So from an NBA standpoint, we have to look across all nationalities, not just on behalf of the U.S. team, but ultimately there is risk. I commented on Paul George earlier. I’m enormously sympathetic to him and his family because of his injury, but as he has said himself, he had no second thoughts about having participated. Larry Bird said it well: Injuries happen in sports. It could have happened outside the context of our national team, as well.”