Indiana Pacers’ small forward and Eastern Conference superstar, Paul George, suffered from an open fracture of both his tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg on Thursday night. This serious leg injury occurred during Team USA’s men’s basketball intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas. The national team had their traditional Blue versus White exhibition game at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and was supposed to be the game to determine the final Team USA roster. While it is a given that George’s career will be put on hold for the entirety of this upcoming season, many NBA fans throughout the nation are questioning whether or not Paul George’s gruesome injury was preventable or not.
Paul George’s leg injury occurred in the middle of the fourth quarter. George collided with the basket stanchion after attempting to block a fast break lay-up by Houston Rockets’ All-Star James Harden with approximately 9:33 left on the clock. In the attempted stop, George’s leg collided with the stanchion and resulted in an instant snap to his right leg. It took nearly ten minutes to get him stabilized, onto a stretcher, and then out to the emergency room at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. He was then brought into surgery immediately, where it was determined that he suffered from a severe tibia-fibula fracture. He is predicted to miss all of the 2014-2015 NBA season.
Viewers found themselves unable to look away as they Googled Paul George’s injury on Thursday night. Many more people searched it on Friday as the news began to go viral within the basketball world. George’s injury may have also been deja-vu as basketball fans immediately thought of Kevin Ware’s similar leg injury from 2013. With thousands of viewers analyzing the gruesome injury, some may question whether or not it was preventable.
UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center’s floor set-up had a significant key difference in comparison to that of an official NBA floor. Many may notice that the Thomas & Mack Center’s basketball backboard stanchion was slightly closer to the out-of-bounds lines. The NBA’s minimum requirement for the distance between the stanchion and the actual floor is four feet. Viewers may have noticed that there is an obvious difference when comparing the non-regulation stanchion to that of an actual NBA arena floor. Some may even conclude that there is an approximate one foot difference, despite UNLV representatives stating that their stanchion was measured to be 3 feet and 11 inches, which is still shorter than the minimum dimension requirement.
Paul George’s right leg wedged into the slit at the bottom of the stanchion as he landed from an attempted block to James Harden’s breakthrough lay-up. On impact, it became stuck and forcefully caused his leg to snap. The baseline may not have been a serious concern during the exhibition game, because that is exactly what it was intended to be. The Blue versus White game was supposed to be a practice scrimmage within the National Team USA basketball team. The basket stanchion could not have been the top priority, which is a possible reason as to why it may have been overlooked. Even so, the baseline, as well as other factors, should be kept in consideration for the safety of any professional and non-professional athlete. Team USA’s exhibition games in Chicago and New York are still set to take place this month, but George’s injury may cause the arena representatives in both cities to push back the basket stanchions farther into the baseline for the remaining exhibition games.
The Indiana Pacers lost in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat in last year’s NBA season. The Pacers All-Star played a significant role in their roster and will now face intense rehabilitation to heal his fractured leg. This leaves the Pacers in a tough situation, while also raising competition in the Eastern Conference. Regardless whether or not George’s gruesome leg injury was preventable or not, this injury is just the start to the rehab of what may be a better and stronger version of Paul George.
Commentary by Tricia Manalansan