My oldest son tried to warn me about Paul George and the Indiana Pacers. For most of the NBA season, I tried to convey to my namesake that George and the Pacers were legit and would be primed to overthrow LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Well, after the self-inflicted headcase the Pacers had become during the latter part of the season, it is very clear that I was wrong on both counts. After a breakout year last season, and an impressive showing in the postseason, including leading his team to a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, George had turned himself into an overnight sensation. The problem with overnight sensations is that they usually flame out very quickly or go down as an overhyped media product. In some cases, that combination will go hand-in-hand.
George seems likely he’ll stick around in the NBA for quite some time. But it might be awhile for George to become “that guy,” even after averaging over 21 points and six rebounds a game during the 2013-14 NBA season.Some circles even had George as the next blossoming superstar, a basketball player with the skill set to some day take over the “best player on the planet” from LeBron James.
Today is not that day. And George, it appears, is not that guy. Not yest anyway. But history has a way of repeating itself. Remember Danny Granger? Wasn’t he supposed to take the Pacers to new heights? Wasn’t he the player hyped as the one athlete in the Eastern Conference that would supplant James from his high tower as the league’s top player? Turns out that Granger wasn’t that guy, either.
Granger is a pretty good player, just not an elite one. Right now, Granger is riding shotgun on the Los Angeles Clippers’ bench. To be the man, you have to beat the man. To win the title, you have to take it from from that champion. The Pacers don’t have what it takes to beat Miami.
After two years of battling the Heat tough in consecutive playoff series, there was a feeling that that George and the Pacers were close. I was in that same boat. It was nothing more than an illusion, deception of the worst kind. For one thing, the Pacers are one of the most boring teams to watch. Their shooters can;t hit a lick on the side of a barn. Larry Bird needs to come down from his president’s position and suit up.
Secondly, George can’t seem to take his game to the next level against James. Then we have the head case gone wild in Lance Stephenson, who is a free agent this summer. Finally, Roy (get out of town) Hibbert has got to be the worst excuse of a center if I’ve ever saw one.
Recording multiple games games during the playoffs of zero points and zero rebounds sounds like a good way to get put on the trading blocks. Then again, who would want a potty-mouthed, soft 7-footer, who has to be motivated to play good basketball by his college coach sitting in attendance of a game?
All of that adds up to an in-house implosion. George is not on James’ level. And from what we’ve seen from the Pacers this postseason, they should not even be mentioned in the same discussion with the Heat.