On one hand, this happened on Saturday night, which makes it roughly 1 billion years old by the standards of Internet time-passage. On the other, though, Paul George's fourth-quarter acrobatics remain quite dope even 1.5 days later, so let's all fasten our seatbelts, make sure our seat-backs and tray tables are in their proper locked and upright positions, and prepare for takeoff:
After draining his fifth 3-pointer of the game to give Indiana a 20-point lead over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers midway through the fourth quarter, George jumped the passing lane on the ensuing L.A. possession to deflect a Darren Collison pass intended for Jamal Crawford. He deftly dribbled past Crawford's reach-in, then found himself in the open floor, with nothing between him and the rim but space and possibility.
"It was just instinctive," George said after finishing off a 36-point, six-rebound, three-steal performance in a 106-92 win, according to Michael Marot of The Associated Press. "I wanted to put on a show for the fans."
The fans weren't the only ones left stunned by the 23-year-old All-Star's whirling dervish. From Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:
"Unbelievable," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
"Probably the best dunk I've ever seen live," teammate George Hill praised.
"Aww man, that was incredible. I've never seen that in a live NBA game," Lance Stephenson celebrated. "That dunk was off the charts."
More from Lance, via Marot: "I just wanted to celebrate. I didn't want to get back on defense. I've not seen one like that in a game I've been in."
That's true, but it wasn't completely trailblazing for George; you'll recall that he uncorked a similar 360-degree windmill during the second round of the 2012 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend. This time, thankfully, we could actually see it.
Of course, with George pulling this one out in the middle of an actual game — which, as Pacers reserve Chris Copeland told NBA.com's Steve Aschburner, "makes it 10 times more impressive" — the dunk-lover's mind can't help but wander and wonder what George would have in store if he were to make a second appearance in the Dunk Contest at the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans, which he's a mortal lock to be attending as a representative of the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive year. We do know that he's been invited to participate, but he's "keeping [his] options open" for the time being.
We'd obviously all love to see the athletic and creative George take to the sky once more at New Orleans Arena, but I can't blame him for wanting to take a sec to think it through. I mean, how the heck is he going to top that?
- - - - - - -