Anyone who witnessed the gruesome leg injury Paul George suffered last week was undoubtedly struck by how unnecessary and tragic it was. It’s nothing unusual for a player to get hurt, but when one of the most talented young athletes on the planet is horrifically incapacitated in his physical prime, you really have to step back and look at the big picture.
While Paul’s health, first and foremost, should be our primary concern, we must also acknowledge that none of this would have happened had the sport of basketball never been invented. It’s easy to point fingers in the wake of adversity, but it’s undeniable that, had Dr. James Naismith taken a moment to consider the risks of affixing a peach basket to a tall pole and encouraging young men to throw a ball into it, Paul George would still be as healthy and capable as ever.
Since 1891, people have been taking the bait—hook, line, and sinker—that basketball was conceived as a means to promote the values of sportsmanship and physical fitness. But since the very outset, the sport has been a ticking time bomb. When you pit strong, competitive young men against one another in a high-intensity physical pursuit, it’s only a matter of centuries before someone’s gonna snap both bones in his lower right leg perpendicular to his body. Frankly, I’m shocked it hasn’t happened sooner.
The greatest trick Naismith ever pulled was dying 75 years before he’d ever have to own up for the monster he created, and now Paul George might never see justice for the pain that he suffered.
Someone has to be held accountable for the health of these athletes, but who? The greatest trick Naismith ever pulled was dying 75 years before he’d ever have to own up for the monster he created, and now Paul George might never see justice for the pain that he suffered. All we can really do is ask ourselves, “What if?” What if the game of basketball had never been created and Paul George still had comprehensive functional use of his lower extremities? Could he be a lawyer? An architect? The president of the United States?
We’ll never know. But we do know that if basketball had never been invented, Paul George would still have the use of his legs today. Similar men—executives in the NBA, FIBA, and IOC—have made similarly harmful decisions in the years since, but it was the initial choice to introduce basketball to the world that ultimately created this mess. And who’s left to clean it up? Everyone but those who are responsible.
So to those who would disagree with me, I’d urge you to watch that grisly footage one more time and force yourself to not look away. Because that’s what happens when you invent the game of basketball. And if that’s something you’re willing to endorse, then maybe it should’ve been you—not Paul George—lying on that court.