Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, for a long time now, has fought against rules allowing NBA players to perform in international competition, and he's back at it following the sobering leg injury to Indiana Pacers forward Paul George.
George's broken leg suffered Friday in Team USA's scrimmage raised questions about NBA players' national team involvement, and Cuban is re-hashing his opinion. While this summer's World Cup is a FIBA-sponsored event, Cuban put the International Olympic Committee on blast in an interview with ESPN.
"The [International Olympic Committee] is playing the NBA," Cuban said. "The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC [pulls in] billions of dollars. They make a killing and make Tony Soprano look like a saint.
"The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money. The players and owners should get together and create our own World Cup of Basketball."
Cuban also spoke with the Dallas Morning News in a similar tone, summing up his thoughts by saying that NBA teams "take on an inordinate amount of financial risk for little, if any, quantifiable gain." Be it FIBA or Olympic competition, the fact remains that teams don't get much out of allowing their players to play.
The NBA's agreement with FIBA states that NBA teams cannot hold their players out of international competition unless they have a "reasonable medical concern" going into international competition. Usually, that means it's up to the players to commit to national teams.
There has been the expected backlash from owners and NBA general managers in the wake of George's injury. But the criticism hasn't come from the team employing George. Pacers president Larry Bird issued a statement of support for USA Basketball, saying he is behind the globalization of the NBA game and believes George's injury could have happened "anytime, anywhere."
But this is an issue that is beyond the teams. Players like George want to play for their national teams, regardless of whether they pocket any money in their own World Cup, as Cuban suggests.
This would be terrible no matter the player, but George spent the whole week speaking w/ tremendous pride about playing for his country.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) August 2, 2014
SB Nation's Tom Ziller gave the compelling argument that it's not right that teams would be able to control where their players want to play in the offseason. Perhaps it should be the players' decision whether to put themselves in a position where injury could jeopardize their NBA health -- teams can get insurance on injured players, though financially they are still put in a tough position due to salary cap rules.
Maybe the more important and immediate question to ask is whether there should be changes to safety regulations that could prevent injuries. George's leg break may have been due to a basket stanchion that was too close to the court.
There are many questions springing up after George's injury, but determining the right ones to ask depends on who's answering.