Indiana Pacers forward Paul George has the opportunity to bring home the gold with Team USA Basketball in this year’s summer olympics. George has made a remarkable recovery since breaking his leg during a Team USA two years ago.
The Indiana Pacers were in trouble. But it would ultimately be Paul George who would be in the biggest of trouble.
On the night of Aug.1, 2014, George’s career appeared to take a massive blow just when it had started to take off.
George, coming off of his second consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearance with the Pacers, had just enjoyed the best season of his pro career. He averaged over 21 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists — helping lead the Pacers to the No. 1 seed in the East, where they would end up being defeated by the Miami Heat in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Fat forward to arguably George’s worst night of his young career.
It’s early in the fourth quarter of a scrimmage between some of the best talent on Team USA’s roster. George chases down James Harden for a block, landing awkwardly on the goalpost. His peers on the court and on the bench immediately react in shock — and it isn’t looking good at this point.
It’s abundantly clear at this point that something is terribly wrong. ESPN shows the replay — and from there, fans see the grisly injury in slow motion.
“The second I saw my bone I lost it. I just laid flat.”
"“I missed [the block], I didn’t get the ball. But then I came down. And it was just awkward. I didn’t really feel nothing then. I just knew I couldn’t put my foot down. I couldn’t help myself from standing,” George said in an interview with Bleacher Report . “Why can’t I stand right now? Then I saw my bone. The second I saw my bone I lost it. I just laid flat.”"
It had been expected for George to miss the entire 2014-15 season with the Pacers — a low blow for both himself and a team that had climbed the ranks of the Eastern Conference in a two-year span.
George would later be cleared to play and appear in the Pacers’ final six games of the season, but the team ultimately missed out on the playoffs after finishing with a 38-44 record.
Many feared if George could get back to his old self going into the 2015 season fully healthy — to which he proved to them that he could not only return to his old form, but better.
George averaged 23.1 points, 7.0 rebound and 4.1 assists in 2015-16 — good for his third All-Star appearance.
He would go on to lead the Pacers into the playoffs, where they lost in a tight seven game series to the 2nd-seeded Toronto Raptors.
It is almost miraculous where George is today — a shot at a gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics, just roughly two years removed from his leg injury with some experts predicting that he may never play basketball again.
George is not only hoping that he has success with bringing his country a gold medal, but that playing in the olympics can help him have a successful upcoming year with the Pacers, per the Indianapolis Star.
“Just being around these guys forces you to up your level of play,” George said. “Then, you just think about taking that to your team and the confidence that playing on this team gives you. You want to dish that out and you want to bring that to your team.”
Team USA begins their quest for the gold medal on Saturday, when they take on China at 6 p.m.
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