There are some injuries that make your stomach shoot up your throat. The gruesome injuries aren't fully recognized in real-time; it's the replays that get you. The slow-motion moment when it all went wrong, and the play is seen in all its glory.
Paul George knows this all too well. Be warned, the video below isn't for the faint of heart.
Paul George's Broken Leg Injury
In preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Team USA held an intrasquad scrimmage at the Mack Center on UNLV's campus. George, then with the Indiana Pacers, leapt to contest a James Harden layup in the fourth quarter. His lower right leg caught the basket stanchion and buckled. It took a few seconds for the players and crowd to realize what happened. The air was sucked out of the building.
Trainers rushed over and examined the devastating leg injury up close. After 15 minutes of treatment on the court, George was taken to a Las Vegas hospital in an air cast. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski canceled the rest of the Team USA scrimmage.
The six-time NBA All-Star officially suffered a tibia-fibula fracture. Expected to make the USA roster, George's international debut was delayed and his outlook for the 2014-15 NBA season was pessimistic. Multiple NBA players such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Dirk Nowitzki tweeted their support.
Per ESPN's Brian Windhorst, then Indiana president of basketball operations Larry Bird set aside team priorities to focus on the Pacers' star's recovery:
"There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back", [Bird said]. "Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help."
Jerry Colangelo, President of USA Basketball, also issued a statement regarding roster selection:
"This is a tough blow, not only for USA basketball but for the Indiana Pacers," he said. "And so as an organization we're just going to let a little time go by here before we address rosters. ... It seems so unimportant in the scheme of things. When you have something like this, it puts things in perspective."
George's injury rivals Louisville's Kevin Ware's leg injury in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and Teddy Bridgewater's ACL tear and dislocated knee before the 2016 NFL season. George quickly had surgery after the incident and miraculously recovered in time to play limited minutes in the season's final six games eight months later. The Pacers missed the playoffs.
He was able to put on the red, white, and blue at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. His contributions helped win the gold medal.
Paul George: The USA gold medal is my championship#PaulGeorge #USA #Gold #viralandfast #Riohttps://t.co/UI8FD2Tlup pic.twitter.com/OOXXVL17By
— Viral&Fast NBA (@VandF_NBA) September 1, 2016
PG13's injury was a setback, but the results propelled him into one of the best players in the league. He was named to the All-NBA First Team and finished third in MVP voting as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019. Now, he's aiming for a championship alongside Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.
MORE: Spud Webb Redefined Gravity at 1986 NBA Dunk Contest
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.