The globalization of the NBA — likely one of the greatest legacies during David Stern’s 30 years as NBA commissioner — took a dramatic turn Friday in Las Vegas when Indiana Pacers forward Paul George suffered a horrific broken leg in a Blue-White scrimmage at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas. George was one of 20 NBA players vying for a spot on Team USA that will compete at the FIBA World Cup, which begins Aug. 30 in Spain.

George, a key member of the Pacers, is expected to miss the entire 2014-15 NBA season.

MORE: Gruesome injuries in sports | George's recovery prognosis

"Without a doubt, basketball has grown tremendously since 1992, when NBA players began playing in the Olympics," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement released Sunday evening. "Also, it's important to note the [improvement] many of our players have made in terms of ability, leadership and passion for the game by playing for their home countries. Injuries can happen any place at any time. The experiences our players have enjoyed by participating in their national teams, however, are ones that are unique and special in almost every other way. At this point, I don't anticipate a major shift in the NBA's participation in international competitions.

"It seems clear, however, that this will be a topic at our next NBA competition committee meeting in September and our board of governors meeting in October. And, of course, we will continue to evaluate the pros and cons of participating in international tournaments."

After winning a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics with a team made up of NCAA stars, USA Basketball began working with David Stern and the NBA. Their goal — the men’s basketball tournament at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics would for the first time allowing NBA players to compete against professional basketball players representing other competing countries. The Dream Team, basketball’s most talked about sqauad (11 of the 12 members are in the Basketball Hall of Fame), won the gold medal winning by an average of 44 points per game. 

In the years leading up to the NBA’s inclusion, the basketball world never backed away from the inevitably of what took place at the Barcelona Olympics. Boris Stanković at the time serving as FIBA’s secretary-general (the governing body for international basketball) believed it was time for NBA players to play for Olympic and World Championship Gold: “The best players in the world want to play against the best America has to offer,” Stanković was often heard to say, “Some of our national teams may lose by 50 or 60 points but wait 10 years, you’ll see players from other countries will be better players after having the opportunity to compete against the best basketball has to offer.” 

Twelve years later, at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Stanković was proven to be a prophet; Argentina won gold, Italy silver and the United States bronze. The USA won gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics; however, as a direct result of David Stern’s vision, basketball has become a global sport.

There has been a very public outcry from the basketball community since Friday night — many calling for the NBA to end the participation of their players in international basketball competitions.

The most vocal critic has been Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who released the following statement to ESPN on Saturday: "The [International Olympic Committee] is playing the NBA. The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC [pulls in] billions of dollars. They make a killing and make Tony Soprano look like a saint.

"The pros in multiple sports are smart enough to not play when they are eligible free agents. But teams take on huge financial risk so that the IOC committee members can line their pockets.

"The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money. The players and owners should get together and create our own World Cup of Basketball."

Cuban is one of the NBA’s best owners and has every right to express how he feels, but that said, to suggest “the greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money” suggests the IOC needs the NBA. Nothing could be further from the truth. The billions of dollars the IOC generates from the Olympic movement has little to do with the NBA. If the NBA decides to take their basketballs and not play in anymore Olympic Games, rest assured, the Olympic Games will thrive and survive. The Olympic Games are a great deal bigger than the NBA will ever be.

“(I have a great) apprecia

tion for what David Stern has done,” Philadelphia 76’ers coach Brett Brown told reporters at the NBA’s All-Star break. “This is truly a global sport — the NBA logo means something ... His runs are on the board, and what he’s done for the sport is amazing.

“To go to Tiananmen Square and see a hundred outdoor courts, and see you can’t get a game, the place is rolling,” Brown Australia’s coach at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. “And (in terms of viewership), you have a bad Australian team playing, and 400 million people (in China) are watching the game.

“You see what’s going on in the Africas through basketball without borders,” Brown emphasized. “The level of basketball in China — where they have 300 seven-footers in their under-20 program — (is similarly impressive).”

Prior to the 2012 London Games, Stern suggested basketball consider what soccer does; the Olympic Games would be an under-23 competition and the World Cup would be an open competition. Stern backed away from his suggestion at the London Games.  

The NHL, which has sent their best players to the last five Olympic Games, is expected to adopt the soccer format in time for the 2018 PyeongChang Games. 

Today, there are more than 100 foreign-born players wearing NBA uniforms (that includes 14 Canadians) from 40 different countries. At the start of the 1991–92 season, NBA rosters included 23 international players from 18 countries.

The NBA of 2014 has media agreements with 212 countries and NBA games are broadcast in 42 languages. Before the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, the NBA announced that “NBA TV, the 24-hour television network of the NBA, which launched internationally during the 2000-01 NBA Season, will be distributed to a record number of fans overseas this season. NBA TV will be on-air in 28 countries, including Spain, Israel, the Philippines, Turkey, and throughout the Middle East.

“The NBA will co-produce a record number of 16 customized programs with international TV partners including, NBA Jam (BTV, China); NBA Dei Di (ATV, Hong Kong); Above the Rim (7TV, Russia); and NBA Max (Telemundo, United States). Among the other broadcasters carrying co-productions are, NHK (Japan), IBC (Philippines), TV Azteca (Mexico), Deportes 13 (Puerto Rico) and NTV (Turkey).”

According to FIBA: “A global study, conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide in April '97 based on 35,000 interviews, showed that 11 percent of the world plays basketball. Basketball has even replaced football as the most popular sport in areas like Asia and Australia and is on the way to surpassing football worldwide

“Over 450 million people play basketball on competition and grassroots level in 2007, but the number of licensed players has also risen drastically since 1992.”

Will the NBA continue to allow its players to compete in the Olympic Games and other major international competitions? 

Pacers president Larry Bird, a member of the 1992 Dream Team, offered this: "There is no question about the impact on our team but our goal is to be as strong-willed and determined as Paul will be in coming back. Our franchise has had setbacks in its history but has demonstrated the abilities to recover. Paul will provide the example of that off the court and it is up to the rest of us to provide that example on the court. Any discussion regarding the future of our team would be inappropriate at this time. Our focus is solely on Paul and doing whatever we can to help.

"We still support USA Basketball and believe in the NBA's goals of exposing our game, our teams and players worldwide. This is an extremely unfortunate injury that occurred on a highly-visible stage, but could also have occurred anytime, anywhere.

"Finally, the Pacers would like to thank our fans and the NBA community for their outreach of support in the brief amount of time since the injury occurred. It has been overwhelming and it is what makes Indiana and the NBA special."

As a business and as a brand, the NBA has generated hundreds of millions of dollars as a direct result of allowing its players to appear in the Olympic Games and other major international competitions. Injuries are a part of sports. Paul George could have been injured and lost to the Pacers at the start of the team’s training camp. Blaming international basketball and casting stones at the IOC is shortsighted. Before the NBA decides its international basketball future, it should take a deep breath, calm down and carefully review the benefits the league has enjoyed from the last 22 years of exposure gained through the globalization of the league.