Brace Yourselves for the Return

Posted: December 13, 2017 by cschrump in Uncategorized

by Chad Schrump

Image result for paul george

He’s back.

Paul George, a man that tried as hard as humanly possible to leave the Indiana Pacers with absolutely zero leverage when attempting to trade him to another NBA team this summer, potentially leaving a proud franchise decimated, is back.

Paul George, a man that told then new Pacers’ President Kevin Pritchard he was “all-in” on building a winner in Indianapolis – then just a week later, allowed his agent to leak to the media that he had no intention of resigning with Indiana when his contract expired next summer, is back.

Paul George, a man that essentially told Indianapolis that your city isn’t good enough for me – even though the city and its fans treated him like a second son for seven seasons, is back.

Paul George, a man that upon playing in his first game back after suffering a potentially career ending, gruesome leg injury – returned to a sold-out stadium, his fans showering him with love and affection, wanting their star to know he was badly missed and was “one of them”, is back.

Tonight, Paul George, Public Enemy #1, returns to Indianapolis in a much different capacity, as his Oklahoma City Thunder…, no, whoa – that’s not accurate… as Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Paul was never much of a leader, so obviously, OKC is not Paul’s team. It’s Westbrook’s.  Matter of fact, Paul George was so bad at leading that David West decided he’d had enough.  He literally left over $10M on the table to go work with real professionals out west.  He knew Paul couldn’t lead – wouldn’t lead – just didn’t have the internal makeup for it.  Paul will never, ever be a Batman.  He’s always going to be a poor man’s Robin.

I understand that the tone of this column seems to have been set, that it’s just another rip Paul George piece but I promise, it’s not what you think. No, really!  Stay with me, here.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to hear the boos. Oh, how I’ve waited for this moment – to wrap my cold soul in a warm blanket of Pacer fan resentment.  The boos will be thunderous, rolling down from the rafters to the floor like an avalanche of anger, hurt and bitterness – perhaps unlike anything, and I mean anything, we’ve ever heard before in this town.  This fan base has been waiting for months for this moment but I’m here to tell you, they’re not nearly as angry as they thought they’d be.  Not even close.

You see, this town has fallen in love with Victor Oladipo.

And love heals all wounds.

On June 30th, when Paul George was traded to OKC for former Indiana Hoosier basketball star Victor Oladipo and 2nd year forward Domantas Sabonis, most thought the Pacers had essentially given George away for free.  Most believed, at worse, Indiana could have at least gotten a couple of late, 1st round picks for their franchise player and that if they were really lucky, could turn one of those picks into a star but clearly, draft picks weren’t even on the table.  The Pacers were left with OKC scraps.

Take it or leave it, Pritchard. Those were the options.

He took it.

Image result for kevin pritchard

How incredibly fortunate for the Pacers that he did because Sabonis has been nothing short of outstanding and Victor Oladipo? This man has been a Godsend.

Vic plays hard. Man, does he play hard!  He rarely complains.  He hustles – no, he sprints! He defends.  He’s passionate.  He’s a skywalker.  He’s fun.  He’s a leader.  He’s clutch.  He’s cool.  He’s marketable.  He’s a role model.  Best of all, he’s a closer!  He’s everything to this team, to this franchise, to this basketball loving state, right now.

He’s almost too good to be true.

Most importantly, when Oladipo hits big shots, and man – he’s already hit a bunch of them, just watch him look up into the stands, his stands, point to his floor with both hands and say, “This is my house!  This is my city.  This is where I want to be!”  He makes Pacer fans feel good again, like they’re good enough, like this city is good enough.

Image result for vic oladipo pacers

Victor Oladipo wants to be an Indiana Pacer. He’s not looking for the next best landing spot.  This is where he wants to be and it feels good.  It feels right.

So, even though Paul George thought he’d left this team for dead, leaving Kevin Pritchard the unenviably task of trying to salvage a franchise for just pennies on the dollar, know this: Oklahoma City was absolutely fleeced in this trade.  There were a lot of jokes circulating in the print media, radio/TV and social media about how bad the Pacers looked coming out of the deal but who’s laughing now?

If the season ended today, the Indiana Pacers would be the #5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and they’re just mere percentage points out of the 4th slot – where they’d actually have home court advantage in their first round series.  No chance you’d have believed that in July, right?  I wouldn’t have.  I know there’s a long, long way to go but this is fun.

OKC? They wouldn’t even be in the playoffs!  They’re the 9-seed out west where only 8 teams get in.  They’re a lottery team!  See, I think that’s funny.  I think that’s absolutely delicious.  Karma can be a real mutha, right?

When they introduce the 6’ 9” Forward from Fresno State, boo with all your might, as I know you will. But deep inside, smile and say a special thank you to PG.  After all, without his desire to dump Indianapolis like a bad habit and move on to wherever he wants to move on to, we’d never had been given the building blocks for the next 10 years in Oladipo and Sabonis.  Indiana’s foundation has been firmly built.

So, thanks PG and by the way – don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way back out of town.

 

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Comments
  1. JRR says:

    Nice column Chad

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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