CHICAGO – DeMarcus Cousins had a big bag of ice on his right knee while he watched the end of practice Thursday. He briefly covered his face with a towel as trainers milled around his table next to the folded gym bleachers.
Just making it to the World Cup of Basketball is proving to be quite a chore for the U.S. national team.
Cousins was injured when he tangled with Anthony Davis after both big men hit the floor during practice. An MRI on Cousins’ knee showed no structural damage.
The test result for Cousins was a breath of fresh air for a U.S. team still recovering from the gruesome injury to Paul George.
“He said he got a little scared, obviously, when you go down after we had that prior injury,” said Jerry Colangelo, the managing director of USA Basketball.
Cousins yelled out in distress as the practice pileup dissipated, leaving him on his back near the free-throw line on one side of the court. He was helped off the floor, and then was confined to the training table for the remaining part of the first of two practices in Chicago before Saturday night’s warmup game against Brazil.
Cousins took a few ginger steps while players were coming off the floor at the end of practice.
“Definitely scary, not just the fact that he went down, but the fact that I actually was the one who dove on him,” said Davis, a Chicago native who plays for New Orleans. “I kind of feel bad and I hope he’s fine because he really wants to be here. He really wants to play.”
It was the first practice for the Americans since George broke his right leg during a practice game on Aug. 1 in Las Vegas. George had surgery the next day, and the Indiana Pacers say their two-time All-Star is expected to make a full recovery.
Colangelo has guaranteed a spot for George for the 2016 Olympics, and the rest of the national team seems to have rallied around the talented small forward. They are planning to wear a special shooting shirt for him for their games before the Cup, and several players talked about winning the World Cup for him.
“The week off that we had, after we saw what happened to Paul, it kind of calmed us down a little bit because right afterwards it was kind of devastating,” Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. “But now that he’s had surgery and it seems like he’s recovering, our goal is just to come out here and compete for our country.”