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George wants to play in '16 Olympics

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 15 2014 02:44:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2014 03:04:16 PM CDT
Paul George, Indiana Pacers, 2013

Brent Smith/Reuters

INDIANAPOLIS -

Injured Indiana Pacers forward Paul George said Friday he is not done playing for the USA Basketball Men's National Team.

Appearing publicly for the first time since breaking his right leg in the USA Basketball Showcase on Aug. 1 in Las Vegas, George said he still wants to play in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

"Absolutely. It's in Brazil," George said. "I look forward to a comeback. I look forward to have an opportunity again to participate in Team USA in 2016. This injury has nothing to do with my take on playing for my country at all."

George, who is on crutches and may begin light rehabilitation as early as next week, is expected to miss all of the 2014-15 NBA season. If his healing process goes quicker than expected, he might still play for the defending Central Division champion Pacers by the end of the season.

"I would love to come back and play this year. I'm a competitor," George said. "I understand there's a possibility I won't be back this year. I'm very aware of that. But if I have the opportunity to make a comeback, I'm looking forward to it."

A national debate surfaced after his injury as to whether NBA players should participate with USA Basketball because of the safety risk. George called the criticism of the national team "unfair."

"It was a freak accident. It was just a freak accident," George said. "No one's really been injured the whole time ... since USA Basketball has been here. They've never seen someone take a huge injury. I think it just happened. Freak accidents happen.

"They don't deserve any criticism for this. I would love to be a part of USA Basketball in 2016."

Players on Team USA will wear a patch on their practice shooting jerseys in honor of George. They are not permitted to wear a patch on their game uniforms during the upcoming FIBA World Cup, per FIBA regulations.

The United States will play Brazil in an exhibition game Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago. George said he will stay home in Indianapolis and watch the game on TV.