While the Paul George injury crystallized the potential dangers NBA players assume when participating in international competition, University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari wants to remind everyone that the experience still offers its share of benefits.
"You get to be a part of representing our country," Calipari told USA Today's Sam Amick. "But take that aside, and now as a player, you get to learn to blend and get to the point where you understand what it means to win a (championship).
"If you make that Olympic roster, you're talking about the best in the world, and you learn. So you get around players who understand what it means to be professional, who respect authority, who are true professionals at what they do. That's why they're the best out there."
Calipari, who coached Team USA members Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in separate seasons at Kentucky, and Derrick Rose at Memphis, says all three have plenty to gain from their being part of Team USA:
Right now, you look at (Davis) and say, 'Man, in five years, he could be the best player in the NBA.' And this USA Basketball stuff pushes that date sooner. Again, here's what it does for him: how to work, new things to add to his game, and confidence like, 'These are the best in the world, so I'm all right.' [...]
This thing that (USA Basketball managing director) Jerry Colangelo created, to bring like minds together, to be a part of that (is great)," Calipari said. "I saw what it did for Derrick Rose, I saw what it did for Anthony Davis and what I hope and believe will happen is that DeMarcus is going to be a 10-time All-Star from this.
He's going to be more mature. He's going to understand what it means to serve and be a part of something that he has got to share. [...]
It is about your country, but the other side of it is, 'What do they take away from that?' They take away what it means to be a pro.
Team USA kicks off the World Cup against Finland this Saturday in Bilbao, Spain.
Feature photo courtesy of US Presswire/Tyler Kaufman