The risk of injury is simply too great, some are saying. They are paid to represent their basketball organization, first and foremost, say others, not the entire country. With Blake Griffin now the third player behind Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to be at risk of sitting out the Olympic games, many are speculating that contracted players in the United States shouldn’t be encouraged to risk their bodies on an international stage.
Griffin, who plays for the Los Angeles Clippers and was ranked as one of the Top 15 Rookies of all time in 2011, signed a contract with Los Angeles last Wednesday, a mere $95 million for five years. But on the same day, within hours, he left a practice with Team USA, saying he had an injury to his left knee. During practice, Griffin got his foot caught under the body weight of James Harden, causing him to twist the leg awkwardly and stumble to the side. Just after their win over the Dominican Republic on Thursday, U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski admitted it was a “big loss”, saying that the team would press forward with or without him.
Still, it’s the Clippers who have to sit and wonder about a man they just agreed to pay big money to have on their roster. If he doesn’t come back in top form by the 2012 Season, perhaps more will argue that there needs to be a salary limit on NBA Players who can represent their country in the Olympics.
But whoever said that athletes were invincible? Kobe Bryant, speaking at a panel discussion, explained the matter more simply. “I could get hurt just as easily playing pickup basketball in the gym somewhere.” In other words, Olympics or no Olympics, there’s never a cloak of invicibility on any player, no matter how much you offer to pay them. All of us are human.
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