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Paul George Injury Ignites Backlash Against Court Layouts

Paul George’s injury should serve as a catalyst for much-needed changes to the layout of NBA and international courts.

Paul George
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Paul George

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Whether freak accident or alarming wakeup call, Paul George‘s unfortunate injury during U.S. Basketball’s most recent scrimmage has highlighted the need to rethink basketball court layouts. Fans simply aren’t convinced that more can’t be done to avoid a similar injury in the future.

Above all else, the injury is being blamed on faulty court design/layout as the basket stanchions were much closer to the baseline than NBA regulation ones, which stand at four feet from the out of bounds mark. At a time when basketball courts, and their surrounding borders, should be getting bigger instead of smaller, the non-NBA-regulation stanchion might draw more bite in the days to come.

Shaq certainly feels it’s to blame.

— SHAQ (@SHAQ) August 2, 2014

Frankly, the conversation shouldn’t end at stanchions that are too close to field of play. Shaq, for one, has been one of many players to go crashing into onlooking fans during hustle plays stemming from various points on the court. Just a quick search yielded the following potentially dangerous moments:

LeBron doing LeBron things over five rows of fans; Kevin Garnett almost kills Jack Nicholson; Phoenix Shaq clearing a seat section; Dwight Howard, like always, pulling off a Shaq-like move; franchise player playing chicken with the stands; similar case with Russ; close calls in pivotal playoff games; and finals games; Tony Snell almost blindsiding a little girl; a star player with vast injury history diving into sea of people during 2011 East Semis; Devin Harris crashing into Lakers Girls (though he looked more than fine)

For a business that greatly depends on the health of its players for the sake of its own health, it’s rather baffling why organizations are willing to risk career-ending injuries for the sake of adding more courtside seats and greater access to media people.

Nerlens Noel’s injury, much like George’s, illustrates the danger of having hoop bases too close to the ends of a court but it’s really a fullcourt concern as potential injuries abound in all directions. These types of accidents, fortunately, don’t happen enough to drive the necessary change in court layouts, but, as we saw during the U.S. scrimmage, that doesn’t leave them outside the realm of possibility.

If fans can see the knuckleheadedness required to gamble the health of world-class athletes on design flaws and a general lack of concern, so can owners with much more at stake.

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