When Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George sustained a potentially career-altering lower right leg fracture during the U.S. national team's intrasquad scrimmage, the sight of the injury shook up the sports community. The injury closely mirrored the leg injury of former Louisville college basketball player Kevin Ware and simultaneously crushed the Pacers chances of making the NBA playoffs for the 2014-15 season while robbing fans of one of the better young talents in basketball. Following injuries of the magnitude of George's there are often questions that come up about how injuries like that can be prevented and what can be learned from the situation that caused the injury. However, there are some important truths about professional sports that can be learned from Paul George's leg injury.
Truth #1: Professional athletes playing the same sport are much more colleagues than enemies.
Understandably after Paul George's injury, NBA players from across the league sent their well wishes to George through Twitter and other social media websites. The line between competitor and coworker was quickly broken when fellow NBA player was seriously injured as a number of NBA players expressed their emotions over the leg fracture. Although sports fans may despise rival teams and cities, it is unreasonable to expect professional athletes to have the same disdain for their peers who go through similar ups and downs when it comes to being a high profile public figure. Certainly, professional athletes compete and want to defeat each other to reach greater status and a championship but they also have the perspective of realizing that the well being of the athlete they are competing against supersedes their "hatred" of that athlete or his or her team.
Truth #2: The George injury itself should not alter anything about the NBA's best players playing for their country.
Significant injuries that occur while a professional athlete is playing for their respective national team often raise the debate as to whether the United States should send their best athletes in their leagues (NBA, NHL) to play for Team USA in global competition. After the New York Islanders lost their best player, John Tavares, to a season-ending injury during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Islanders general manager Garth Snow voiced that he felt that NHL athletes should not be participating in the Olympics and amateurs should replace them. Clearly, serious injuries like those to Tavares and George greatly harm their teams and organizations, who pay athletes millions of dollars to perform for their franchises, but the important thing to remember is that injuries can and often happen at inopportune times. The right to represent their country should be left up to the professional athlete and they should have to deal with the potential injury risk related in doing so.
Truth #3: Professional athletes have every right to pursue every dollar that they can in their particular sport.
Paul George's leg fracture could have not only have been season-ending, it could have been career-ending. Fortunately for him, he signed a multiyear contract reportedly between $80 million and $90 million last year that gave him every more financial security than he had previously ever had. Some athletes like Max Scherzer reportedly turn down long term lucrative contracts in favor of free agency to possibly get an even bigger contract. Despite the obvious injury risk associated with not signing a multi-million dollar contract, pro athletes can quickly be labeled as "greedy" and "selfish" by fans and media for turning down money even though it is the athletes themselves that are taking a considerable risk when it comes to possible serious injuries playing sports. There are much more dangerous jobs than that of professional athletes but they are very much at risk of losing life changing money during any practice, scrimmage, or game. Hopefully, Paul George will fully recover and excite fans with his talents for years to come.