Paul George (born May 2, 1990) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). George played high school basketball for Knight High School before playing two seasons of college basketball at Fresno State. He was selected by the Pacers with the 10th overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft. In 2013, he was selected to play in his first NBA All-Star Game, received the NBA Most Improved Player Award, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team and the All-Defensive Second Team.
George was born on May 2, 1990 in Palmdale, California. George is son the of Paul George Sr. and Paulette George. He grew up with two older sisters: Teiosha, who played basketball at Pepperdine, and Portala, who played volleyball at CSU-San Bernardino.Although George idolized Lakers star Kobe Bryant,he grew up rooting for the Los Angeles Clippers. George spent most of his free time playing basketball at the park or one-on-one against his older sister Teiosha. He did not play organized basketball until his freshman year at Knight High School. He played for the varsity basketball team his last three years of high school under head coach Tom Hegre. George played for Pump and Run of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) with future UCLA Bruins Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee.
George attended Knight High School in Palmdale, California. As a sophomore, he began the season on the JV team, but was moved up to the varsity after the season started.During his junior year, he was the only non-senior on the varsity team starting lineup. Recruiters began noticing George during the summer of 2007, while he competed in AAU tournaments. Sensing George’s potential, his coach handed him a leading role his senior season. That year, George led Knight to the Golden League championship, and was named the Golden League Most Valuable Player, the Antelope Valley Press Player of the Year, and a member of the Daily News 2007-08 All-Area Boys’ basketball team. He ended his senior year averaging 23.2 points and 11.2 rebounds.
Despite his accomplishments, George was not considered a major prospect by colleges. Rivals.com labeled him as a three-star recruit and ranked him 20th among a class of California prospects that was highlighted by Jrue Holiday and DeMar DeRozan. George verbally committed to Santa Clara, the first school that offered him a scholarship, but he later de-committed from them because his high school coach thought he should keep his options open.After a positive experience attending Teiosha’s Midnight Madness event at Pepperdine University, George committed to Pepperdine on August 9, 2007. Midway through his senior season, he de-committed from Pepperdine after coach Vance Walberg resigned from the program. He ultimately chose Fresno State over offers from schools like Georgetown and Penn State because of greater opportunities for playing time.
George played two years at California State University, Fresno, more commonly known as Fresno State. In his first game with the Fresno State Bulldogs, he scored 14 points in a winning effort against Sacramento State. The following game, George recorded 25 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort against Saint Mary’s. Despite the loss, he made an impression with his one-handed slam dunk over Mickey McConnell that earned him SportsCenter ’s number 1 “Play of the Day” for November 18, 2008. On February 9, 2009, he scored a then career-high 29 points to lead the Bulldogs to an 88-82 victory over Boise State. In the 2009 WAC Tournament, the Bulldogs were matched up against Hawaii and advanced to the quarterfinal against the top-seeded Utah State Aggies. During the game, he forced a career-high 5 steals and finished with a team-high 16 points; however, despite his effort the Bulldogs lost, 85-68. With a 13-21 record, the team failed to qualify for the 2009 NCAA Tournament. He led the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in minutes played (1176) and finished second in 3-point shooting (44.7%), steals (59) and steals per game (1.74). His 3-point field goal percentage was the third-best in the Fresno State Bulldogs men’s basketball program. He started all 34 games and finished the season averaging 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game on 47.0% from the field.
Entering his sophomore season, he was named the most entertaining player in the West region and the eighth most entertaining player in college basketball by Sports Illustrated in their list of the “Top 16 Most Entertaining Players in College Basketball”. On January 21, 2010, he sprained his right ankle against Utah State and missed the next four games. He made his return on February 11, scoring a career-high 30 points in a winning effort over eventual WAC Tournament champion New Mexico State. During the 2010 WAC Tournament, he recorded 22 points and 11 rebounds, but his team lost to Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals. The team finished the season 15–18, with George averaging 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.2 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 90.9 percent from the line. He was named All-WAC Second-Team and ranked second in the WAC in free throw percentage (90.9%), steals (64) and steals per game (2.2).
On March 31, 2010, George announced that he would forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility at Fresno State and enter the 2010 NBA draft. He made his first appearance on a 2010 mock draft on Draft Express a month into his sophomore season. By May 2010, mock drafts such as Draft Express, ESPN.com, and The Hoops Report predicted that George would be selected 12th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies. Two days before the draft, Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports wrote an article about an anonymous Eastern Conference scout stating that “in five years, Paul George will be the best player to come out of this draft”. Hoping to draft Derrick Favors, the Pacers had discussed a draft trade with the Nets that would have sent Danny Granger and the 10th pick to the Nets for Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian and the 3rd overall pick, but the deal fell through. George was invited to sit in the green room during the draft and was selected tenth overall by the Indiana Pacers. He became the highest NBA draft pick in Fresno State history. On July 1, 2010, he signed his rookie contract with the Pacers; a two-year guaranteed deal worth $3.9 million, with team options for a third and fourth year.
On October 27, George made his NBA debut against the San Antonio Spurs, playing 23 minutes and scoring 4 points on 1–5 shooting. In a game against the Washington Wizards, he knocked down five three-pointers and finished with a then-career-high 23 points. George averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists on 45% shooting in his first season, starting 19 of his 61 games. He also showed his defensive skills, leading the team in steals-per-minute. For the 2011 Playoffs, George was one of only two rookies from the 2010 NBA Draft to be in the starting lineup for his team, the other being Landry Fields for the New York Knicks. In the playoffs, the Pacers lost in five games to the Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose. Upon completion of his inaugural season, George was named to the 2011 NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team.
On February 3, 2012, George recorded 30 points, 7 three-pointers made, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 1 blocked shot in a win against the Dallas Mavericks. George was selected to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest and Rising Stars Challenge during the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend. In the Slam Dunk Contest, George completed a 360 windmill dunk in the dark and dunked over teammates Dahntay Jones and Roy Hibbert. However, he lost the contest to Jeremy Evans. He finished the 2011–12 lockout-shortened season with averages of 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 44% shooting, George started all 66 games for the Pacers in the season. After beating the Orlando Magic, who were without Dwight Howard, in five games in the first round, the Pacers lost to the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat 4–2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with George making just 19 of 52 field goals.
On November 21, 2012, George made nine three-pointers en route to a career-high 37 points in a victory against the New Orleans Hornets. The nine 3-pointers broke the franchise record for most 3-pointers made in a single game, surpassing Hall of Famer Reggie Miller. George was named NBA’s Player of the Week for the first time in his career in December, winning three straight games against Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Detroit. He recorded his first career triple-double in a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on February 13, 2013, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists and 2 steals.That same season, George was selected to play in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston for the first All-Star selection of his career. He recorded 17 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists on 7-of-13 shooting in 20 minutes for the East, but they lost to the West 143–138. George averaged career highs of 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists, and was the only player in the league with at least 140 steals and 50 blocks. At the conclusion of the regular season, he was named the NBA Most Improved Player.
In Game 1 of the Pacers’ 2013 NBA Playoffs first-round series versus the Atlanta Hawks, George recorded his first career playoff triple-double, tallying 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a 107–90 win. It was the first postseason triple-double by a Pacers player since Mark Jackson had one in the 1998 playoffs. On May 13, 2013, George was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. George led the Pacers with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks on May 14, 2013 in a 93-82 victory. In Game 1 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, George made a three-point field goal at the end of the fourth quarter to tie the game and force an overtime period. During overtime, Dwyane Wade fouled George with 2.2 seconds remaining. Despite George making all 3 free-throws and putting his team up 102-101, the Pacers ultimately lost as LeBron James drove in for a buzzer beater lay-up. To cap off a great 2012–13 campaign, George was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
On September 25, 2013, the Indiana Pacers extended George’s contract, electing him to be their designated player. The extension, which will start at the end of his rookie contract in 2014, is a “5/30” designated player extension (5 years and 30% of the salary cap), subject to passing the “Derrick Rose” test. George had to be elected to one further All-NBA team (at any level) or be the MVP during the 2013–14 season to qualify for the 30% extension. If he met either of these criteria, the 30% extension is estimated to be worth around $90 million over the 5-year deal. If he had failed to meet the criteria, he would be contracted at 25% of the salary cap.
The Pacers started the 2013–14 season 9–0 for the first time in franchise history. George finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in a 99–91 victory over the Detroit Pistons. He then posted 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists during a 91-84 win over the Toronto Raptors on November 8. The following day he scored 24 points and added 6 rebounds in a 96-91 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. For his efforts, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. With nine wins to start the season, Indiana became the first NBA team to start the season 9-0 since the Dallas Mavericks in the 2002-03 season. The Pacers undefeated streak ended at 9–0 against the Bulls on November 16. On December 2, 2013, he scored a career high 43 points, along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists, in a 102-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The following day, George was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month, the first time in his career, for the month of November while leading the Pacers to a 15-1 record.The Pacers finished the regular season with an incredible 56-26 record. In the 2014 playoffs, the Pacers eliminated the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards in the first two rounds. In game 4 against the Wizards, George scored a playoff career-high 39 points. The Pacers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat for the third straight year. For his efforts, George was named to the All-NBA third team, qualifying him for the full 30% extension, and All-Defensive First Team.
During the 2014 offseason, George was named to the training camp roster for the US national team that would represent the country at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. He had been considered a virtual lock to make the roster for Spain. However, on August 1, George landed awkwardly at the base of a basket stanchion after fouling James Harden during a Las Vegas scrimmage, and suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg. He quickly went into surgery for the fracture, with a pin being inserted in the leg. While no official prognosis was initially given, he was considered likely to miss the entire 2014–15 season. George, who has said he wants to play at some time during the season, was cleared to put weight on the leg in late September, and was shooting jumpers in practice in late October. He participated in his first full practice of the season on February 26, three days earlier than expected, and was ruled a possibility to play within a week on March 20. On April 5, George made his return to the Pacers line-up for the first time since sustaining his leg injury with Team USA. He scored 13 points in 15 minutes and made two key three-pointers early in the fourth quarter, helping the Pacers defeat the Miami Heat 112-89.