BOSTON – In a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, former NBA point guard Steve Nash was interviewed and he was asked about his time with the Los Angeles Lakers when he joined forces with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol in a super-team that ended up going awry. One of the major factors for the team not panning out, according to Nash, was the fact that Gasol had been physically exhausted from his summers playing for the national basketball team of Spain.
Many players have felt the same way about playing competitively during the summer and have instead opted not to play for national teams, citing tiring and injuries as their major concerns. The Boston Celtics did not feel that way during this off-season, though, as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker are all members of the United States national basketball team that has been competing against countries like Australia and Japan in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
And, of course, the entirety of the Celtics fanbase collectively held their breath on Tuesday night when the U.S. team squared off against Turkey and, in the waning seconds of the game, Tatum went down on the court after rolling over his ankle. It was the kind of injury that looked absolutely devastating to all who love watching Tatum play, never mind the Celtics fans with hope pinned on him and, of course, the forward himself.
After an examination the next day, it was announced that Tatum would be sidelined for at least five days and two FIBA games with a sprained ankle, but it could definitely turn into a longer stint. Tatum might want to opt out of the remainder of the tournament for the sake of keeping himself healthy during the off-season.
Scoring 21 points in two games, Tatum had been a solid role player for the U.S. team, but the injury and his well-being should definitely take precedence for him. According to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, Tatum also texted Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as quickly as possible to let him know the injury was not serious. It is a sigh of relief, for sure.
As for the game against Turkey, the U.S. at least ended up prevailing with a 93-92 overtime victory.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Erik Drost