Paul George doesn’t have much time left in an Indiana Pacers uniform. After the story broke on Father’s Day that he intended to join the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, the rumors surrounding his NBA future switched from “Do the Pacers know George wants out of Indianapolis?” to “What will the Pacers do now to salvage some of his trade value?” So, with George’s imminent departure, it’s time to take a look back at 13 of No. 13’s most memorable moments.
- Indiana Pacers select Paul George with No. 10 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft — June 24, 2010
Paul George spent two years at Fresno State, about a three- or four-hour drive from his home town of Palmdale, California, before he elected to turn pro. He averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists as a freshman before he improved his stock as a sophomore with averages of 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists each contest. A projected lottery pick, he was invited to New York for the draft, and by night’s end had punched his ticket to Indianapolis.
- Rookie notches first 20-point game — April 6, 2010
Paul George’s most impressive night as a rookie in his first regular season with the Pacers came against the Washington Wizards with just days left before the playoffs. George scored 23 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished out four assists while knocking down nine of his 15 shots and missing just one of his six 3-point field-goal attempts. The Pacers were in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference at that point, and the 136-112 win helped ensure a match-up with the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls.
- Paul George one-ups Reggie Miller, sets record for most 3-pointers made in a game by a Pacer — November 21, 2012
The record had been eight, and it had belonged to Reggie Miller. But during the 2012–13 NBA regular season, Paul George hit nine of his 13 3-point field goal attempts to lift Indiana to a 115–107 win over New Orleans, and himself into the record books. He would score 37 points in total, and later that season came close
to repeating his feat with seven made threes against the Houston Rockets.
- Paul George suffers gruesome leg injury with Team USA — August 1, 2014
During a Team USA scrimmage at Thomas & Mack Center, the home of UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball, George broke his right leg. The injury kept him out of action for the next eight months and cast serious doubt as to whether or not he could be the star the Pacers needed him to be in the future. George did return for the tail end of the season, but Indiana would finish ninth in the Eastern Conference. It’s the only season so far during George’s pro career that the Pacers haven’t reached the playoffs.
- The return — April 5, 2015
Fans greeted George with a standing ovation when he checked into the Pacers’ early April match-up against the Miami Heat. It was his first NBA game in nearly a year, and George would score 13 points in a 112–89 win over the Eastern Conference foe. Indiana went 5–1 over the final six games of the 2014–15 season with George back in the fold.
- Team USA wins gold in Rio — August 21, 2016
Paul George joined Reggie Miller as the second Pacer to win a gold medal when the United States defeated Serbia 96–66 in the gold-medal game in Rio de Janeiro. It marked the completion of a national team journey that began after he broke his leg in 2014. He not only came back to make the team, but performed at a high level and showcased his defensive skill set on the international stage with a Team USA squad that didn’t have LeBron James or Steph Curry.
- Paul George irked by organization’s actions around the 2017 trade deadline — February 23, 2017
The Indiana Pacers didn’t make any moves at this year’s trade deadline, and while that in itself didn’t bode well for a front office that’s now past a time when it could try to show Paul George its commitment to building a roster around him that could compete for championships, George appeared to take it personally that he was kept out of the loop. It’s important not to muddy the waters between players, coaches, and management, but in a time when George’s future was up in the air, letting him know what the plan was would have been a good idea.
- LeBron James and the Cavaliers drop Paul George and the Pacers in four games — April 23, 2017
The Indiana Pacers have qualified for the NBA Playoffs six times in the seven years George has called Bankers Life Fieldhouse home, and this loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers marked the fourth time a playoff run has ended at the hands of a LeBron James–led squad. It doesn’t have quite the implication as did James’s final playoff loss with the Cavs before he left for the Miami Heat, but it means another year without a trip to the NBA finals. This series stings, too, because as widely acclaimed as the Cavaliers were this season, the Pacers never lost one of the four games by more than six points, and averaged a four-point deficit for each loss.
- Jimmy Kimmel recruits Paul George on Jimmy Kimmel Live! — May 15, 2017
Jimmy Kimmel didn’t hide his intentions when Paul George guested on his show in mid-May. Kimmel wants George to be a Laker, and made cracks about Magic Johnson being George’s future boss in Los Angeles and about George’s plans to work out with Kobe Bryant during the off-season. George said at one point during the interview that he loved Indy, but didn’t deny his California roots.
- Paul George replies to tweet from Bleacher Report — May 18, 2017
At 11:43 a.m. on a Thursday in May, George injected some intrigue into a situation in a way few could have predicted. A tweet earlier that day from Bleacher Report linked to a story that said Paul Pierce thought the Boston Celtics should trade the No. 1 overall pick. George replied to the tweet with just the Bleacher Report’s Twitter handle, but the attention that that reply gave the article ramped up speculation that George was sending signals that his days with the Pacers were numbered.
- All-NBA teams announced, Paul George nowhere to be found — May 18, 2017
Call it a snub, call it whatever you want, none of the three All-NBA teams sported Paul George’s name. If one of them had, the Pacers—thanks to what’s called the designated player veteran extension—could have offered George a five-year deal worth about $210 million. That means George’s signature on a Pacers contract would have netted him a year and $75 million more than it would with any other team when 2018 rolls around and George likely opts out of his current deal. An optimistic fan might have said, “Don’t lose hope—Indiana could still offer more money and a five-year deal instead of four,” but the Pacers’ monetary advantage took a serious hit, and a realistic analysis wouldn’t predict a much longer union between the two.
- A softball game, an interview, some hot takes — June 15, 2017
The Paul George saga gave the ninth annual Caroline Symmes Memorial Celebrity Softball Challenge a little added flair last week. Surrounded by a throng of journalists, George said he was a Pacer and would play out the rest of his current contract. Indiana’s biggest talent would also say he wants to win, have a team he can win with, and bring an NBA title to Indiana. Depending on how optimistic you are, that could have meant one of two things. One, he wants to stay with the Pacers long-term and be part of building a contender. Or, two, he’ll play the 2017–18 season with Indiana and then look for his best option, whether that’s with another team or not.
- Report: Paul George to exit stage left, or left coast, if you prefer — June 18, 2017
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski lit a media fire this past Sunday, on Father’s Day, when he reported that Paul George intended to leave Indiana for Los Angeles in 2018. Citing league sources, Wojnarowski said George’s agent told Kevin Pritchard that George wanted to be upfront about his intentions to not remain with the Indiana Pacers long-term. The Pacers are reportedly engaging in talks to move George now, but with the thought being he’d likely only be with the team he’s traded to for a year (unless he’s traded to the Lakers, which is a hard sell if Wojnarowski’s right and he’s going to be there in a year anyway). Pritchard is in a tough spot, and likely won’t get the same level of talent he might have if George’s intentions had remained private.