For a few brief moments at the end of USA's FIBA World Cup blowout of Ukraine, the biggest storyline of the upcoming NBA season — Cleveland's unveiling of the league's newest Big Three in LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving — appeared in jeopardy as Irving lay motionless on the court in Bilbao, Spain.
The starting point guard on a U.S. squad that features former MVP Derrick Rose and Second Team All-NBA selection Stephen Curry, Irving appeared to land on his tailbone with 1:12 remaining in a 95-71 victory. He ultimately walked gingerly off the court with help from the team's training staff.
Never fear, for Ohioans — and any NBA fan who doesn't want to see another star sidelined as a result of international competition — can breathe a sigh of relief, as Irving squashed any cause for concern by taking to Twitter in the game's immediate aftermath.
Irving's fall offered another reminder of the gruesome leg injury that will likely cost Paul George the entire NBA season, raising questions over the wisdom of multimillionaires risking their livelihood for anyone other than their primary employers. While the entire roster initially remained committed to Team USA, Kevin Durant withdrew as Nike and Under Armour offered competing nine-figure endorsement deals to the reigning MVP.
If the thought of dropping out of World Cup competition crossed Irving's mind, it didn't last long, as he indicated he'll be in Barcelona for USA's Round of 16 game against Mexico on Saturday.
Charles Barkley on NBA players competing internationally:
- Sports & Recreation
- Kyrie Irving
- Derrick Rose