(Reuters) - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would re-open debate about the merits of participating in international events in the wake of Paul George’s gruesome injury, but did not foresee a major shift in policy.
George, an Indiana Pacers All-Star, suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg on Friday in a USA Basketball intra-squad scrimmage ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain starting August 30 and is expected to miss the NBA season.
“At this point, I don’t anticipate a major shift in the NBA’s participation in international competitions,” Silver said in an e-mailed statement to ESPN.
“It seems clear, however, that this will be a topic at our next NBA competition committee meeting in September and our board of governors meeting in October.
“And, of course, we will continue to evaluate the pros and cons of participating in international tournaments.”
Silver spoke out after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban renewed calls for the NBA to run its own global events independent of FIBA, the international governing body, since the league assumes a big financial risk and does not directly profit from the players’ participation.
The NBA commissioner said the sport and the league had greatly benefited from participation of the game’s greatest players in the Olympics and world championships.
“Without a doubt, basketball has grown tremendously since 1992, when NBA players began playing in the Olympics,” Silver said, referring to the Barcelona Games when the U.S. ‘Dream Team’ made their debut.
“Injuries can happen any place at any time. The experiences our players have enjoyed by participating in their national teams, however, are ones that are unique and special...”
The Pacers themselves expressed continued support for USA Basketball despite potentially losing George for the first season of his five-year, $92 million maximum contract.
“We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA’s goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide,” Pacers president Larry Bird, a player on the ‘92 Dream Team, said in a statement.
“This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Justin Palmer