Paul George injury overshadows Derrick Rose controversy
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter August 1, 2014 10:54PM
Updated: September 3, 2014 6:19AM
LAS VEGAS — The drama surrounding Derrick Rose on and off the court was put on hold late Friday night.
As a matter of fact, all USA Basketball decisions were put on hold after Indiana Pacers forward Paul George suffered a horrific injury to his right leg, forcing Team USA’s intrasquad game to be called early in the fourth quarter.
George, who was playing with Rose on the USA Blue Squad, was racing down the court in pursuit of James Harden when he slid into the base of the basket, wrenching his leg violently. Fans courtside could be seen covering their faces in disgust as medical personnel rushed to the All-Star’s side.
Minutes after George was taken out on a stretcher, USA coach Mike Krzyzewski announced the game was called with the White Squad up 81-71.
No players were made available afterward. Only Krzyzewski and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo came to the media room, visibly shaken.
‘‘This is a very tough blow,’’ Colangelo said. ‘‘Not so much about us, but about Paul. It’s a first for us in USA Basketball to have something like this take place. It’s a tough situation for our entire organization, our coaches, our players. Very, very emotional. There’s no way the game could have gone on under the circumstances.’’
The injury puts off any roster decisions USA Basketball was set to make after the game.
‘‘We need to just take a step back before we do anything at all,’’ Colangelo said. ‘‘Our first concern is Paul George.’’
Players huddled in prayer while George was being attended to. They gave him an ovation as he was taken out of the Thomas & Mack Center.
The injury cast a shadow over what was an electric night and week for Rose, who was on full display in the first five minutes of the game. He had a ridiculous two-handed dunk off an offensive rebound and pass from Kenneth Faried, as well as two layups reminiscent of the player who won the NBA’s MVP Award in 2011.
If only he could work on his back-tracking skills.
In an interview with the Sun-Times earlier this week, Rose acknowledged hearing ‘‘the stories’’ of a lingering rift between the Bulls and his camp but said he hoped it was all in the past.
Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf released a statement late Thursday night disputing the Sun-Times story. Rose admittedly spoke with Reinsdorf by phone, then did an ESPN interview Friday morning attempting to change directions.
‘‘[Reinsdorf] told me don’t worry about it, just stay focused and, like I said, it’s the past,’’ Rose told ESPN. ‘‘It’s funny just hearing so many stories about what’s going on, and they’re coming out of, like, kind of nowhere, so it’s funny to hear about them, but it’s nothing that’s going on.’’