While the Indiana Pacers were given a small chance to beat the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, forward Paul George has transformed that sleeper chance into a reality. The Pacers are no longer considered a team that could give the Heat problems, George has made sure that they do give them problems and it’s starting to show.
So the natural progression to the Paul George conversation is to beg the question of whether or not Paul George has already blossomed into a superstar in front of our very eyes?
For those who watch Eastern Conference basketball, George’s talents are absolutely no surprise. In fact, this is almost overdue as the Pacers have been leaning on George for the past few years but he just wasn’t mature enough to carry the burden.
But after tasting bitter defeat twice in the last two trips to the postseason, George has become battle hardened and he’s now ready to not only lead the Pacers deep into the playoffs but take them to the next level as well.
The fact that he’s finally able to do what he does best on one of the largest stages in the NBA has given him a platform to become a superstar and it’s no longer a question of when will Paul George become a superstar, it’s when did he become a superstar.
If you want to pinpoint the exact moment Paul George became a superstar, look no further than his Game 1 performance against the Heat. We were asking when George would become a superstar at that point because he weren’t sure what we were seeing. No one had done what George did to the Heat in the postseason and Game 2 only solidified it.
Where the Chicago Bulls beat the Heat in Game 1 of their series, they followed it up with getting destroyed the rest of the series by showing no effort. Chicago’s game 1 win over Miami was a fluke, Indiana’s win in Game 2 was not.
In fact, at this point it’s hard to even say the Pacers lost Game 1, as they really only lost it in the box score. Chicago’s spirit was crippled by their loss to the Heat, but Indiana just took the punch on the chin, wiped the blood off and smiled at Miami just like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber – then went on the attack.
That begins and ends with Paul George who was clutch for the Pacers in Game 1 and continued that into Game 2. The team feeds off of George and he’s proving to be LeBron James’ new nemesis in the NBA. He’s not always perfect but not even LeBron is, and while superstardom is measured in accomplishments and championships, you don’t just go toe-to-toe with the best player in the game for the fun of it — you do it because no one else can.
If that’s not a superstar, I’m not sure what is.
So when you’re watching the rest of this series between the Pacers and Heat, remember that handshake LeBron James gave Paul George after he blew past James and dunked on Chris Andersen. That wasn’t a small gesture, that was LeBron James acknowledging Paul George as a superstar and it’s time we all join him in that assessment.