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USA Basketball: Paul George's injury should give pause to idea of stars like Kevin Durant playing international hoops

Is playing international basketball worth the risk of injury? I thought what you thought. That could have been Kevin Durant. And no matter what anyone says, “you” includes Clay Bennett and Sam Presti and Scotty Brooks and Russell Westbrook.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 3, 2014

And every time basketball is full force, the chance of injury increases.

Which makes this system madness. As Mavs owner Mark Cuban pointed out long before Paul George’s leg snapped, the NBA is assuming all the financial risk and reaping none of the financial rewards for international basketball.

Personally, I don’t see the big deal for international basketball competition. Is there some question about the U.S. being the king of hoops? This isn’t soccer. Isn’t gymnastics. Isn’t track and field. Everybody knows who has the majority of the world’s best basketball players. Maybe in 50 years there will be legitimate debate. But not now.

Cuban says he’s not opposed to international competition. Just let the NBA get in on the action. In fact, let the NBA establish some kind of world championships. Why let the International Olympic Committee or FIBA, which I assume is a total wreck of an organization like every other sport’s world governing body, cash all the checks and pay out none?

I appreciate Cuban’s business sense. But even if Paul George’s injury had come in an NBA summer enterprise, no one in Indiana would feel one bit better, and every other NBA port would be lighting candles by the thousands, praying for the well-being of its resident superstar.

It sounds unpatriotic to ask Americans to refrain from playing for the flag. But we’re not asking these guys to protect our freedom. We’re asking them to beat Angola and Croatia so we can hear “Oh, say can you see…” blare over a loudspeaker 10 time zones away. We’re asking them to give us a momentary rush of dubious pride.

It’s not worth it, even if you’re not the one paying Kevin Durant $20 million a year and it most certainly isn’t worth it if you are.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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