Culture of Hoops

Shall He or Shall He Not Return? That is the Question for Pacers’ Paul George


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Image courtesy of Joe Glorioso/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Joe Glorioso/Flickr.

In early August, forward for the Indiana Pacers, Paul George, suffered a horrendous compound tibia-fibula fracture while playing for Team USA during a scrimmage in Las Vegas. George fouled James Harden on a drive to the basket and landed awkwardly on his right leg which buckled under the impact, causing both his tibia and fibula bones to break jaggedly and tear through the skin. That night he underwent emergency surgery, where surgeons fixed the bones by inserting a metal rod into the break and securing it with pins.

Medical professionals advise patients with a tib-fib fracture to allow 6-10 weeks for the bone to heal before even beginning rehabilitation therapy. While he remains hopeful, George, as well as teammates, coaches, and officials in the front office are not expecting a return this season; unless, however, the Pacers manage to squeeze a spot in the playoffs. But with the absence of the All-Star George and the free-agent loss of all-around player Lance Stephenson, the Pacers’ chances of making the playoffs are slim, meaning George will likely not see court-time until next season.

This could, however, provide him valuable time to fully recover, train hard, and polish his skills in order to return to his All-Star status. George’s determination to return is evident. Coach Frank Vogel reports on George’s activity in the weight room, where he’s been focusing on core and upper body strength. Though he remains in a supportive boot he’s already shed the restraints of crutches and has even been seen on the court, working on his shooting game.

While the injury itself remains a concern, George’s youth and athleticism promise a full physical recovery. His mental game, on the other hand, may hinder his return to stardom. The American Association of Family Physicians conducted a study of the psychological effects on an injured athlete. The study states, “Psychological factors have been shown to be an important antecedent to the onset of athletic injuries and also play an important role in injury rehabilitation and ultimately successful return-to-play.”

George seems all too aware of this mental feat. He knows that being off the court for a season and distanced from his teammates will be mentally tough. He voiced these concerns in an interview with Reggie Miller and The Indianapolis Star, “You know, this is probably still a tough time just because all the guys that are starting to show up at this point in the season were looking forward to this year to play alongside with me. And to not be out there with those guys, it’s a reality check at this point.”

George’s chances of seeing the court in the 2014-15 Pacers season are slim to none. However, if he can maintain a positive mindset and work tirelessly in his rehabilitation, the 24-year-old will likely make a brilliant return to All-Stardom by next season.

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