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By now everyone has seen the horrifically gruesome Paul George injury, one that eerily reminds us of an injury that Kevin Ware suffered while playing for Louisville in the Final Four a few years back.
The similarities are numerous: the way their legs snapped instantly, the looks of shock and anguish on the faces of those unfortunate enough to be within viewing distance of the calamity, the hushed and reverent silence of the crowd within the arena as George was being attended to. But there is one difference, that is, perhaps, the most more important than anything else related to this incident: Ware’s injury was unavoidable, as he unluckily landed on his leg in a freak manner that caused it to give under his weight. The action of landing on a basketball court, one that occurs countlessly during any basketball game no matter which level we’re talking about, is to blame in that circumstance.
In the case of Friday night’s occurrence, however, George’s outstretched leg landed on the stanchion that upheld the hoop that George and fellow US teammate James Harden were racing toward. According to USA Today, this stanchion at UNLV, the site of the night’s United States national team scrimmage, is just an inch under four feet from the baseline. It’s also an inch under the NBA’s standard distance for such equipment, although many of the league’s arenas leave much more room between the baseline and their stanchions than that.
The stanchion acted like a wall would under the same circumstances: An object hit it, the wall didn’t give, so the object therefore absorbed the brunt of the impact. Had that “wall” not been there, would George’s injury have occurred? While it is difficult to say for certain, the general thought is no.
So while this didn’t happen at an NBA-sanctioned game in an NBA-sanctioned arena, there is no doubt that this is a warning shot to the league that although most of their arenas probably have their stanchions at a safe distance from the play on the court, the league must make certain that this applies to every arena, and raise the four foot rule.
The national team is also obligated to make sure that its scrimmages are played in arenas that don’t have the problems that the UNLV arena does. The NCAA should be put on notice as well, and make sure that every college under their jurisdiction has at least five or six feet of space between court and stanchion. Forget the lure of more cameramen, seating capacity, and closer fan viewership, as was reported by Forbes, as the reason that the stanchion was so close. It’s not worth risking the possibility of things like this happening.
Ware’s injury was as bad as they come. The only thing that could have made it worse was if it was preventable. That’s the situation at hand with George.
Image via Facebook from Paul George