In an interview with the Star Tribune, George was asked a wide-ranging set of questions. Among them was one on his status as a superstar and while expressing no regret for signing an extension with the Indiana Pacers, George admitted that he felt like one:
Q?You signed a maximum extension here before the season. You didn’t aspire to play in a bigger, glitzier market than Indianapolis?
A?Of course everyone does, but you have to look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture here is we’re all young, we did so well last year, we have a core group of guys who are going to be here for a while. There’s no need to go to a big market when I have a market where I can win here.
Q?You’re putting up superstar numbers and you’ll soon be paid like one. Do you feel like one?
A?I do feel like one. I feel like I’ve carried myself and have been playing at that level.
Being the big-market connoisseur that I am, I can appreciate George’s honesty on playing in Indiana. Of course stars want to play in larger markets. Who wouldn’t? The exposure and the earning potential coupled with the sheer excitement make those opportunities too good to pass up.
But the Pacers are a title contender. They’re a group that’s been together for quite some time and has a chance to make a real dent in the lowly Eastern Conference. I’m talking a Godzilla-sized mark. Only three teams have a record of .500 or better heading into Monday night’s action—which is terrible. Absolutely sad. Beyond atrocious. Nevertheless, the struggles of 12 or 13 other teams—most notably the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets—have paved the way for Indiana to become a powerhouse.
Why would George have tried to leave, then? Not to diminish his loyalty, but even if he wanted to, it probably wouldn’t have happened. Restricted free agency is a time when teams keep their best players. They have all the control. George could have pulled the Eric Gordon and demanded a trade, and he could have incurred the same result—nothing. Despite George’s desire to leave, the Pacers could have retained him. Openly declaring his desire to escape the confines of a smaller market would’ve only created unnecessary waves.
Back to his superstar comment, though. George feels like a superstar, because he is a superstar. That shipped sailed a long time ago. The invitations to his coming out party were mailed midway through last season, before he won the Most Improved Player award.
When he’s not sustaining a career-high in points, George’s is erasing any doubt that he cannot be an efficient player. When he’s not masking the absence of a true point guard in Indiana, he’s establishing himself as one of the best defensive winds in the NBA. Put simply, he’s the best player on what is presently the NBA’s best team.
Scary to think that he’s only 23, isn’t it?
“Yeah, it was pretty high and I still feel like I’m nowhere close to it,” Paul said of his ceiling.
Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle drunk off apple pie-flavored move shine; that’s scary, too.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.