MANILA, Philippines — Aside from a Larry O’ Brien Championship Trophy, there is one other piece of hardware Paul George wants to get his hands on.
The 23-year-old forward admitted on Tuesday during Indiana Pacers’ first practice at the Mall of Asia Area here that he wants to win a “couple” of Defensive Player of the Year awards.
“When it’s all said and done and I’m hanging up my sneakers, if not having one, I want to have a couple of defensive players of the years,” George told reporters at the media availability ahead of the NBA Global Games.
“I just feel like that I have that capability of guarding guys,” he added.
George even had the daunting task of guarding the LeBron James in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, where the Pacers yielded anew to the eventual NBA champions.
While his lapse down the stretch cost the Pacers’ game one of that series, it shouldn’t define George’s generally great defense on elite players.
In only his third year in the NBA, George has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team Second team, All NBA third team, NBA All Star team as the league’s most improved player.
And after a stellar season and massive five-year extension estimated at $90 million, expectations for George to bring Indiana to a deeper run in the East just got heftier.
“Coming into this I was ready for the expectations. Pressure builds character. I always wanna climb to a higher level. Expectations make me wanna push better,” George said.