Most basketball fans would just like to expunge Paul George’s injury this summer from their memory. It was so ghastly a break, we eventually took video of the injury down, not wanting to play into the shock value of what happened. After working his butt off to get back on the court before the 2014-15 season concluded, George joked to the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee about the injury and his mindset now that he’s back on the court.
You’d think there might be some hesitance associated with a return to the court, or at least some fear he’d re-injure the same leg, but not for PG-13:
“I don’t have any fear. Unless they move the stanchions closer,” George said with a laugh. “I don’t have any fear of re-injuring it. That’s that least of my worries. I’ve got to ride in there and be 10 times stronger because of that.”
He’s joking of course, but not really. The closer basketball stanchion was the primary reason his leg snapped like it did in August. He came down at an angle on the basket support after attempting to block James Harden during that ill-fated Team USA scrimmage. Fear of re-injuring the leg the same way can’t be far from his mind.
But the process by which he’s come back, has given him new-found strength.
“It definitely built character within myself to know that I can get through anything and accomplish many things,” George said. “If I can make it through this, it won’t get too much more difficult.”
“It’s really just a victory that he’s back out on the court,” Pacers Coach Frank Vogel added.
While George returned with 13 points in 14 minutes against the Heat, he felt — according to Lee — the Heat took it easy on him in his return, perhaps out of sympathy for all that he’s had to go through over the last year. He did encounter form contact against the Knicks on Wednesday night when George scored 10 points in 15 minutes, but was only 2-of-7 from the floor.
His middling shooting was the result of his attack mindset; PG-13 made three trips to the free throw line on the night, hitting 5-of-6 from the stripe.
His teammate, Luis Scola, actually banged into PG when trying to set a screen for him.
“That was really the first time I’ve been hit in my leg,” George said. “I think the more contact I get to it, the more I trust it. It’s going to help because it didn’t hurt.”
It’s obvious to anyone who followed George before his injury, that he’s only playing at a fraction of his previous capabilities. But rehab after breaking his leg so badly is more tortoise than hare: it’s the slow and steady who win the race, and the fact he’s already back on the court is huge first step. The fact he’s still attacking, even with those stanchions looming, is even better. The best bet he’s mentally ready stems from the joke about the stanchions above. Only a confident player says something like that.