BY GEORGE, PAUL’S BACK

Paul George on his injury comeback and hitting All Star in Toronto

Q: You’ve had a unique journey from being seriously injured and then making it to the All Star Game. How tough was that for you to make it back and how good is it to be in an All Star Game?

Paul George: It’s amazing. This one is probably the one that touches the most … I just feel like that everyone that followed me through the journey played a huge part and I’m very thankful for all the fans that have and voted me back and got me into my third All Star Game.

Q: You’ve talked a lot about the injury that you had but I was wondering if you had seen the replay of your injury and if so, what are your thoughts on what happened?

Paul George: No, I’ve only watched it once and I won’t watch it again. It’s a one-time thing. Just had to see what happened. I’ve put it behind me in the past. Passed that situation now.

Q: You had a fantastic start to the season but you’re in a little bit of a shooting slump right now. Is it the different kind of defence that’s bothering you or is it maybe you just simply doubting yourself a little bit too much lately?

Paul George: It’s more so of just not being in competition for a little over a year. I think I’m still just getting adjusted to this. Trying to work my way through it, battling fatigue and legs tiring out. So just trying to build my legs back up and getting that endurance back up.

Q: After that great comeback you’ve got now after that terrible injury, and you’ve been to the All Star and to start immediately. Do you consider that as a sign of how much the people love you but also what they expect from you in the near future?

Paul George: Yes, it definitely is a sign of both. That’s the reason why this to me is so special. It’s not just because the love for them to vote me back to being starter, it’s just the love. Then also, I expect a lot from myself. After the injury, going into the summer I expected to return to form. I expected to be my old self. I knew it was going to take some time to get back used to my legs, get back used to my body, get back top form on the court, but I did see myself being back to where I’m at now. I didn’t know I’d be here so soon. I was kind of just playing it by ear, going through the motion of this being the last step of rehab more or less be ((inaudible)) and work out whatever I needed to work out. But I am very happy to be at the point where I’m at right now.

Q: At one point or another during the first half of this season you’ve played four of the NBA’s traditional positions. There seems to be this sort of growing importance on multi-faceted players, guys are moving away from the basket more, guards are sort of taking on sort of more rebounding responsibility. Do you feel like the old walls have come down and that we’re in the sort of era where there’s more position-less play in the NBA?

Paul George: Yes. I mean certainly the game’s changed. It’s really the taller guys and stronger guys are really having the guard’s skill set nowadays. The game has definitely transitioned to where you’re playing it further and further away from the basket. It’s just a different game. It’s almost like having four guards now and one big man. It’s just a luxury to have a big guard that can play that forward spot and match up with a traditional big. The game is definitely changing. You know, it’s changing and it’s only going to I think at this rate and training I think it’s only going to transition to more and more bigger guards and more perimeter oriented game.

Q: Indiana have now moved from a more defence-oriented style in the previous seasons to one where it’s a much more fluid style of basketball. As you pointed out earlier, you moved from the small forward position to the power forward more and you’re also averaging your highest points per game in a season. Do you think the change in style has helped you become a more overall basketball player?

Paul George: I think I have but I haven’t played forward since the beginning of the season. I moved back to the three-spot, but I have become a more complete player playing with a smaller group just because triple-drive game, understanding space and understanding where guys are at on the floor, playing a faster style. So it was a different adjustment that I think added on to me playing traditional big to now learning how to play with them. So I’ve definitely learned a lot.

Q: You’re playing better, you’re scoring more points but Indiana, before your injury, they were one of the powerhouse teams in East. Now you’re number seven. Do you think you need more help and do you think – how soon do you think Indiana will be back challenging for the title?

Paul George: I think we’re doing a well job. We all here at Indiana think we should be a lot better than what we are, but bigger picture we’ve lost a lot of close games that we possibly could have won. Just, you know, us being a new group and not understanding how to put it together yet and close games. But I don’t think we’re that bad off. Again, we’ve challenged every team. We’ve challenged the best teams. It’s a tough game, but again, it’s just our inexperience with us being together sort of our first year I think is – we took some growing pains and some learning pains but this is the type of group that if we continue to play well, we continue to learn each other, going into playoff time this is one of those teams that really ignites, come together at the right time and learn from our mistakes earlier in the season.

Q: Behind Cleveland, what’s your ranking of the teams in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference right now?

Paul George: I mean the rankings is what it is. The East is very tough this year. I think we definitely should be one of the top echelon teams in the East. We would have been had we learned how to close games out sufficient where we wanted to be. But the East is competitive this year and every team ends up slotted where they are right now is deserving of that position.

Q: What do you think your Pacers can do in the East and in the playoffs this season? You kind of – it seems like you have finally found a starting five you like and you can go on the whole season with.

Paul George: Yes. Yes, we have a group that’s playing well. Our starting line-up is playing really well right now and it’s good that we’re getting some experience of chemistry with one another. But again, this team can really make a push late in the season if we continue to grow together. We started out hot and we kind of peaked, we kind of peaked early while the rest of the teams, or the rest of the league just gets better and improving. For us, it’s just continue to improve, continue the chemistry and, again, we’ll be pretty happy and satisfied at the end of the year.

 

Q: Based on the season you’ve had so far do you feel like your name should be mentioned in the MVP conversation more than it is?

Paul George: I mean if we won the games that we should have and we were where we’re supposed to be then yes. But right now I’m not doing a good enough job of finishing games for this team, and you look at the top guys that are performing well and in the MVP conversation, they’re doing an amazing job with their respective teams and that’s the point I’m trying to get to right now. I wouldn’t even be satisfied if I was in the conversations right now.

NBA All Star 2016 sees the best players in the world go head-to-head in Toronto. Watch the game from 1.30am on Sunday night/Monday morning live via NBA LEAGUE PASS at www.nba.tv

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