George Still Green and Growing
May 23, 2013
MIAMI – Paul George took his selection to the All-NBA third team just as he accepted his other honors this season: in stride, as part of a longer process rather than a desired destination.
George's distinction comes on the heels of his first appearance in the All-Star game, his victory in the Most Improved Player voting and his selection to the All-Defensive second team. At 23, however, he sees everything as a step toward something better.
“It's something I can be proud of for this year, but it will make me strive to be first team or second team,” he said before the Pacers practiced on Thursday at American Airlines Arena. “This is only the start for me.”
George becomes the third Pacer to receive recognition on an honor team. Reggie Miller was a third-team selection three times (1995, '96 and '98), Ron Artest was third-team once (2004) and Jermaine O'Neal was third-team twice (2002 and '03) and second-team once (2004).
George averaged a team-best 17.4 points during the regular season, but has enhanced his national stature in the postseason with his defense. He has effectively guarded the opponent's best scorer in each round, taking on Atlanta's Josh Smith, New York's Carmelo Anthony and now, Miami's LeBron James.
He scored scored 27 points in the Pacers' Game 1 loss to the Heat on Wednesday, nearly leading an upset of the team that finished with the best record in the NBA with a 32-foot three-pointer that forced overtime and three foul shots that gave the Pacers a lead in the final seconds of overtime. He also had the Pacers' second postseason triple-double in Game 1 of the series against Atlanta.
George has grown about an inch since he was drafted with the 10th overall pick three years ago, and now stands slightly taller than 6-9. He's likely done growing in his literal stature, but plans to keep going otherwise.
He called his latest honor “something to keep growing from,” and while all the demands placed on him have taken a physical toll, he says he's not depleted.
“I've got a lot left,” he said. “I've got a lot left in the tank. I'm 23, with ambitions of being great in this league. I won't stop until I'm a first-teamer.”