The question asked of Mike Krzyzewski by a French reporter Monday night had the not-so-subtle implication that the U.S. basketball team was somehow missing out on the Olympic experience by staying off campus, so to speak, on a cruise ship moored in downtown Rio.
The timing was slightly ironic, because only moments earlier Paul George had been speaking of his attempts to reach out to Samir Ait Said, the French gymnast who on Saturday suffered a nasty fracture of his lower left leg while landing a vault attempt.
“At some point, I'm going to go over and have a chat with him, sit down with him, try to be an inspiration,” George said. “I know what it's like going through it. Hopefully any words I can give will be useful to him.”
George knows that feeling as well as anyone, having suffered a similar (but even worse) injury during the 2014 pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas that knocked him out for the entire 2014-15 season. He has tried contacting Said via Twitter and through team emissaries. A meeting was set for Monday, but canceled because Said is still in the hospital and the U.S. game-day routine prevented it. It could, conceivably, happen today.
“It's tough,” George said. “Olympic gymnasts, their window is probably as small as ours. He's probably been training his whole life for this opportunity. I'll definitely be in his corner. I saw it live. It brought me back to my days. It was difficult. I didn't want to watch it, but in order for me to go and talk to him, I had to see what happened. It was tough, tough for me to watch.”
George's mission is proof that the Olympic spirit is slightly stronger than geography, no matter where the U.S. team stays, on land or sea.
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock