After Paul George suffered a freak and freaky leg injury in a USA Basketball competition, NBA players began wondering whether representing our country is worth potentially sacrificing their careers, or at least pay checks. Mark Cuban, predictably, went ape shit and called for a USA-centric tournament that would get him and his fellow owners a piece of this high-quality competitive basketball.
While most of Team USA committed to continuing to play in the World Cup after George went down, we can’t help but wonder if Kevin Durant’s withdrawal had something to do with the injury. And we wouldn’t be surprised if future involvement is affected by it as well.
But Pistons owner Tom Gores, in an interview with the Free Press, gave the perfect response when asked whether he has second thoughts about allowing his prized young center, Andre Drummond, to compete for a USAB roster spot:
Q: It’s been a newsy summer from a league perspective and the most recent thing would be the catastrophic injury suffered by Pacers small forward Paul George at USA Basketball camp. You have Andre Drummond and he’s moving on to Chicago to continue tryouts with Team USA. Does George’s injury give you pause?
A: “It’s always difficult in this kind of situation. As a Detroit Pistons owner you get worried, but at the same time there’s such a valuable experience that comes out of them being together as players, camaraderie for the country, camaraderie for themselves, a different purpose. I think there is a part of it that’s great for the players because it’s just winning for your team. There’s something bigger at stake and they’re not doing it for their contract or this or that.
“I’m not torn on it. The upside is for the players. Is their downside for teams? That’s possible. As just a business owner? It’s very possible, but at the same time you can take a guy like Andre Drummond who has the ability to have this experience with all these different guys who are going to play for their country and are really superstars, how would I ever take that away from him? At the end of the day, I think the guy should have the experience.”
Gores’ take is two-fold: Allowing Drummond (or anyone else) to play with Team USA can be good for their NBA team (this is the argument we used when theorizing that Kevin Durant would become the world’s best player by leading Team USA this summer — whoops!), as playing with superstars for a greater cause than “because I’m under contract” can help them elevate their own game.
Additionally, this is a great experience for Drummond as a human being, not just a ball player. “How could I take that away from him?” is a sentiment not widely shared, at least publicly, by NBA owners.
Good on Gores for putting playing for USA Basketball back in perspective.
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