A major contributing factor to Paul George's leg injury was the location of the basket stanchion relative to a typical NBA game. While injuries are a freak occurrence and part of the game, it is clear that the stanchion was closer to the court than players are used to in the NBA. This particular location at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas took away up to two feet of space that George would have ordinarily had to land. Above, you can see a comparison. The top is the court last night, right before the injury, and the bottom is a shot from Indiana's home court during the playoffs.
"This is the stanchion where Paul George got his foot stuck. This is closer than the normal NBA regulation should be. I have to admit: I don't know what the actual definitions are, but I know from just eyeballing it that it may be a foot or two closer to the baseline than you'd normally have at an NBA arena. We'll obviously hear from Paul down the line, but [he didn't think] he'd have to worry about landing on the basket stanchion because he wouldn't have had to worry about it. He's landed many, many times without worrying about it. That's one of the issues with this arena. It's why the NBA won't have a team back here and it's why they haven't' brought the All-Star game back here. Even if they wanted to take the stanchion back even further, the stanchion as is is almost in the tunnel."
That last bit is really troubling. To hear Windhorst tell it, the NBA won't put a team in the Thomas & Mack Center, or hold an exhibition game there in part because of this issue. However, it did play Summer League games there and obviously Team USA has used the arena as well, knowing that it was a concern.
When you watch the video, George lands on the padded base of the basket and in a way that is obvious he wasn't expecting it to be that close. He could have suffered any number of injuries on any number of plays, but if the base is where he's used to it, he has more time to react. If it's where he's expecting it, that also means he has a feel for where it is and whether he needs to react in the first place.
Spoke to 2 coaches here in Vegas tonite who say the court must be expanded on the baseline. Not just stanchion issue, also camera men
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) August 2, 2014
That comparison picture really hits when you see the positioning of the cameramen on the regulation NBA court in Indianapolis; they are in line with the stanchion. In Las Vegas, they're probably in the same position relative to the baseline but look to be at least a foot behind the stanchion. The arm of the basket is also significantly longer in the NBA setup.
Here's another angle from the baseline. It is right on top of the court.
Here's the distance between baseline and stanchion at Thomas & Mack pic.twitter.com/x1B3U8wDPQ
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 2, 2014
You can also see in that angle that there doesn't appear to be any room behind it (as alluded to by Windhorst), it looks to be pushed all the way up against the seating platforms. As of yet, no comment has been made on the use of the arena or the location of the stanchion.
Image via @tdot82