MIAMI – Every day, Paul George marched into the gymnasium on the UNLV campus and immersed himself into the education of a young basketball lifetime. As an understudy practice player for USA Basketball, his assignment was the impossible: Come take turns guarding Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. Come take your beating, young fella.
Ten months ago, the NBA's biggest stars were preparing for the Olympics in London. George was preparing for the NBA's biggest stars.
"We were there to be practice dummies," George said late Friday. "Guys would say, 'You understand what they're doing to us, right?' "
"Yeah," George responded. "So?"
From the USA Select scrimmages in July to Game 2 of these Eastern Conference finals on Friday night, George had come so far, so fast, that suddenly his Pacers are standing eye-to-eye with the defending NBA champions. Suddenly, LeBron James wasn't treating George like an understudy, but a starry peer.
Before the stunning fourth-quarterRead More »from Paul George earns LeBron James' respect as Pacers show they're a worthy challenger to Heat