If Doc Rivers was right about one thing, he was right about luck intersecting with fate, and fate changing everything. It is the Paul George story of the moment, how a random event totally impacts a future, and how a championship arc now looks bleak. It’s physics. One bad thing happens precipitating something else terrible to happen and a chain of events crumble a wall, so here you are on a winless Indiana Pacers team that can’t score points, doesn’t have defenders and is looking pretty hopeless right about now.
A year ago in August, Paul George freakishly broke his leg in a random event that was captured by multiple television angles and replayed a myriad of times as a primer on how life can be unfair and how we are all connected to five other people. Paul George was out for the season. The Indiana Pacers year went down the tubes. David West wanted out. Roy Hibbert was the scapegoat. Larry Bird blew the whole thing up. Monta Ellis was brought in to save something. Jordan Hill was expected to be Roy Hibbert. (I refuse to mention George Hill dying his hair blonde).
Reverse the script. If Paul George hadn’t crash landed into the stanchion, if he had won a gold medal in the FIBA World Cup, if he had played the entire schedule of the 82 game season, the Pacers would have made the playoffs as a top four seed. They still might have gotten rid of Hibbert but David West wouldn’t have left a contending team. The Pacers world wouldn’t have come crashing down. It wouldn’t have broke.
Now the third best small forward in the NBA behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant is being asked to be something he is not, a power forward. Monta Ellis is being asked to be something he is not, a savior. Jordan Hill is being asked to be something he is not, a rim protector. Myles Turner is being asked to be something he is not, a veteran, not a rookie. It all comes down to one thing. Paul George’s once beautiful baskeball world has dissolved.
Paul George was in the Eastern Conference Finals two years in a row. Now he is part of something miserable. The Pacers can’t score. They are scoring 92 points a game. They can’t defend. They are giving up 105 points a game. They can’t rebound. They are last in the NBA in rebounding. They don’t move the ball- 18 assists per game. They can’t make shots, 41% field goals.
It’s a lost season for an All-Star who should be thinking Eastern Conference Finals. But that is not how the NBA is. Things change on a dime. They change because of injuries. The change because of personnel. They change because organizations get restless, annoyed and feel desperate.
It is the bottom line and all that matters: everything has changed for Paul George.
photo via llananba