Pulse: Sleeved jerseys- yay or nay?
LAS VEGAS – Those legendary, hard-fought playoff battles between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat in recent years has epitomized what NBA postseason play is all about.
Physicality, timely plays produced by role players, top-notch coaching and of course superstars made their meetings together must-see events.
The headliners for these colossal showdowns were none other than All-Star small forward LeBron James versus emerging All-Star small forward Paul George. With James going back to Cleveland this summer, the Pacers-Heat rivalry won’t have the same luster to it.
As far as the James-George rivalry goes, George says no matter where LeBron goes, he’s coming for him. Even in Cleveland. He’s not going to allow a relocation to interfere with what he’s trying to accomplish.
And that is dethroning The King as the best.
“Bron going back home, it’s definitely going to pick things up when the Pacers and Cavs play,” George told CSNNW.com following Day 3 of Wednesday’s Team USA training camp. “I’m definitely still gunning for the top guys. Whoever the top guy is, I’m gunning for him. I got a target for him as well as he’ll have a target for me.”
Despite Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant winning the 2013-14 NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and New York’s Carmelo Anthony continuing to put up big numbers, the Pacers’ All-Star still believes James is the top dog.
“It’s LeBron right now,” George said without hesitation. “Bron is in the east. He’s the top guy. He’s the one everybody is chasing. At the end of the day, I want to be one of the best and the top player in this league. LeBron is the one I’m gunning for as well as K.D.”
At Team USA training camp, George has established himself as a leader of this squad and he’s leading by example by playing tenacious defense and mentoring the newcomers. On and off the court in the past two years, he said he has grown immensely as a player and a person. USA Basketball chairman, Jerry Colangelo, says he can see the evolution, “The proof is in the pudding.”
“I’m just taking every summer to get better and being part of Team USA gives me that opportunity to do so,” George said. “Just wanting to be that player, I’ve always wanted to get to that next level and have that extra edge.”
Right now, George’s mindset is fixated on coming back victorious from the FIBA World Cup in Spain later this summer. After that, it’s back to tackling one mountain at a time.
“A lot of guys in this league, I won’t say everybody, but a lot of guys in this league want to be at the peak of their performance and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “We’re all blessed with the ability to play basketball. Why not capitalize on it.”