Unfortunately, due to a gruesome right leg compound fracture that occurred during a Team USA intersquad scrimmage, we will not be seeing Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in action this season. His Pacers have floundered without him, currently sitting at 16-31 and four games back of the eighth and final playoff spot. It’s safe to say they won’t be making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third consecutive season, but George is hard at work to come back in peak form next season. He’s already to doing on-court work and dunking the basketball again with as positive of a mindset about his situation as he could have.
“I really believe everything does happen for a reason,” George said in part one of an in-depth, original video documentary on Bleacher Report. “There wasn’t any disappointment in why this injury happened. I just knew it was something that was going to be part of my story.
“I look at is as you got a short window to play basketball and I wanted to get everything out of it. I wanted to squeeze that basketball until there was no more juice left. To get a chance to play for your country and represent your country is a dream. The next thing to me is winning a championship.”
While George declined to watch a replay of the injury, he broke down his memory of it vividly.
“It was a fastbreak and I was the last man,” George recalled. “I turned around and saw James [Harden] ahead of me going for a layup. I chased him down, jumped to go block it and I missed. I didn’t get the ball, but then I came down and it was just awkward. My leg hit the stanchion; I didn’t really feel nothing then, but I just knew I couldn’t put my foot down. I couldn’t help myself from standing. I tried to grab on the mat to help myself, like, ‘Why can’t I just stand right now?’ I look down at the seat to see my legs and I saw my bone, the second I saw my bone I just lost it.
“The pain was tough, as soon as the air hit the bone and where the open wound was it just shot like through my whole body. I tried to lift back up to take another look but the OKC trainer rushed over and pinned me down so I couldn’t get back up. He told me, ‘Man you broke your leg, you’ll get through this but it’s broke.’ That was a tough point right there.”
As a result of that fateful night and treacherous fall, George now has a medal rod and three screws in his right leg to help stabilize the repaired tibia and fibula. He refers to it as a part of him, as it will remain with him long beyond the last day he takes the hardwood.
In the early stages of his recovery, George was bed-ridden, spending up to 13 hours in the same room. He was not very independent at all and struggled to get around on his own. Stairs, in particular, gave him a lot of trouble, as he would often be dizzy by the time he was finished. But, the immense amount of support he received via social media helped him make it through all the tough times.
February is the six-month mark in George’s rehabilitation, and he is obviously well on schedule to play in 2015-16. In fact, there was talk earlier that a comeback this season may have not been out of the question for George, but given the severity of the injury, the Pacers’ struggles without him and the importance of his long-term health, there’s simply no justifying an expedited return. Next October is when we should expect to see George again, and that will be over 14 months removed from when the injury occurred. When that time comes, George anticipates feeling the same way he did on that night in Las Vegas before the start of the game.
“I felt I was immortal,” George said. “I felt invincible. I’ve made so many plays where guys go down and I walked away clean from it. I did feel nothing bad could happen to me when I was on the court. To this day, once I’m healed, that’s the last day I’ll think about being hurt again.”
Around the NBA: Here’s a look at some of the notable things to come across the newswire Wednesday afternoon:
- Amid reports that his job security was coming into question, Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins admitted to being bothered by talk like that, which was commonplace his final year with the Memphis Grizzlies as well. However, he said that he hasn’t read any of it. If he were to, he likely would have seen the quick denial from the Nets as well.
- Thaddeus Young voiced a desire to stay with the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite the widely-assumed notion that they will strongly consider trading him at the deadline in order to ensure they don’t lose him for nothing this offseason in case that he decides to opt out. Young said at shootaround: “I’d love to be here and grow with this team.”
- After further review, the NBA announced that the $25,000 fine of Matt Barnes was not because of his interaction with Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, who Barnes revealed has a mutual disliking for him. Barnes has been adamant in voicing his displeasure with the fine, saying that he was baited into it by Sarver, who was out of line first by his account.
- Initially reported by Shams Charania and later confirmed by Basketball Insiders’ Cody Taylor, Tyler Johnson is going to be re-joining the Miami HEAT on a second 10-day contract after spending a few days away from the team after the conclusion of his first one. Johnson was also a training camp invite for the HEAT and is someone they like enough to continue investing in. He’ll provide depth on the wing and will primarily be used because of his floor-spacing ability offensively.
- Despite being taken out of the starting lineup recently, Toronto Raptors guard/forward Terrence Ross is not available in a trade. “Absolutely not,” an executive told Sean Deveny of Sporting News. “They still have a lot of belief in him and there is not much you could do to get him from them.”
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