Pros or Collegiates, Which Should Play for Team USA?

N.B.A. players should no longer be questioned when they decide not to play in international competition.

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George was injured in the 4th quarter of Team USA’s scrimmage Friday night.

When Kevin Love and Blake Griffin withdrew from Team USA this summer, many in the media questioned their real motivation for doing so. But after seeing the Paul George injury during the Team USA team scrimmage Friday night, my thoughts immediately went two places. One, Griffin and Love look really smart right now. Two, should Team USA go back to using college players in international play. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Let me explain my position. Pro players have guaranteed contracts and receive the best medical attention money can buy. You can bet your life’s savings that Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers brass have their medical staff on a flight to Las Vegas as I write—if they aren’t there already—to be involved in the entire process surrounding George’s medical needs and treatment. Eventually as he progresses, George will be monitored and aided by the best trainers in sports.

If Paul George’s injury would’ve happened to a college kid playing for Team USA while on summer vacation from school, I’m not sure he would get the type of medical attention George will receive from this point moving forward. While some top collegiate programs—like a Kentucky, Duke, Ohio State and a Kansas—have highly qualified medical and training staffs, that wouldn’t be the case for all the student athletes participating. Think about the ones from your mid-majors where their athletic departments don’t operate on the same budget. A top flight training staff isn’t high on the priority list. What if this would’ve happened to one of them? Could you also imagine the out cry over the damage to his future?

Which brings me to this, while money wouldn’t be the first thing on your mind after a potential catastrophic injury as this, you’d have to think you could kiss that high draft selection with the multi year million dollar contract goodbye. Pro Athletes are scrutinized for trying to get every dollar they can, injuries like this are why. They must maximize their earning potential while they can. A college athlete would never get that opportunity.

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I’m confident George will bounce back and have the productive career he was headed towards because of the resources available to him, I couldn’t say the same if this happened to a college kid. Don’t believe me, go ask former Louisville guard Kevin Ware.

Reaction from around the league:

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