by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness
October 30, 2013
Though he’s now starring in the NBA, Paul George remains loyal to his college, and is opening his wallet to help out the university. The fourth-year NBA swingman purchased all remaining tickets to Fresno State's basketball home opener against Cal State Northridge on Nov. 16.
"Fresno State at the Save Mart Center is one of the best facilities in college basketball," George said. "If you've never seen it, never been to it, it's almost an NBA arena. In my time, we never sold it out so I want those kids to have that experience to get a sold-out crowd and play in front of a full arena. I thought that was the best way to do it."
George, 23, donates Nike shoes to the team every year. In the offseason, this Palmdale, Calif. kid makes the 200-mile trek north to Fresno to workout with the guys and play pickup games.
"I'm fully behind coach [Rodney] Terry and with what he's doing there," he said. "I want the best for my Fresno State guys."
George said his generous gesture set him back $7,000. Bulldogs fans are instructed to print off this ticket, and take it to the arena's box office in advance of game day. The Save Mark Center has a capacity of about 15,000.
Paul Ladwig, the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Fresno State, confirmed George's contribution to Pacers.com.
"This is the first time we've ever asked him to do something philanthropic and the cool thing about it was he didn't even blink," Ladwig said by phone. "We got about halfway through the conversation and he just said, 'Yes and just let me know what I can do.' And that's the kind of guy he is and that's why this community loves him."
George played at Fresno State for two seasons (2008-2010) before entering his name into the 2010 NBA Draft, and subsequently was selected at No. 10 by the Pacers. Last season, he averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He led the team to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, won the NBA's Most Improved Player award and was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
On Sept. 25, before training camp opened, George signed a five-year deal worth upwards of $90 million. He's on the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him roughly $3.2 million this season.
Since leaving school early in 2010, George has continued to be involved with the Fresno State program. He previously served as a celebrity judge during their Midnight Madness, and he’s spent time with donors whenever he’s in town.
"Paul has never said no when we've asked him to do something for us, whether it's cutting a radio or television spot, or coming to one of our events to be recognized,” Ladwig said. “He's a true Bulldog. This community loves Paul George and Paul George has always given back to Fresno State."
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