FAST-rising NBA star Paul George is out to prove he is worth every penny of the fresh five-year, US$80 million contract extension he signed with the Indiana Pacers.
Considered as the new franchise player of the young Pacers franchise, George said he’s happy to play for Indiana, especially after the team pushed the Miami Heat to seven gruelling games in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
“I am ready for the expectations. I say that every time. Pressure builds character and I’m someone not satisfied being where I am. I always want to climb higher and higher,” George said on Tuesday during a 10-minute interview with mediamen at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-8 George said he’s excited to be part of history playing in the first-ever preseason game in the country as the Pacers will be squaring off with the Houston Rockets on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“It means a lot. It’s great for the NBA to bring basketball to this country, a phenomenal country. Just riding to the hotel, there’s basketball court right outside, so it’s huge out here. And for us to be the first ones to play, it’s special,” he added.
The Pacers are coming off a 76-82 loss to the Chicago Bulls in a preseason game over the weekend in Indianapolis.
Having seen Bulls star Derrick Rose play his first game after missing the entire 2012-13 season due to injury, George said he’s determined to elevate his game further, especially on the defensive end.
“It is one of my goals (to be the top defensive player in the NBA),” he said. “When all is said and done and hanging up my sneakers, I want to win a couple of Defensive Player of the Year (awards). I feel I can win a couple.”
The 23-year-old George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game last season as he earned his first All-Star Game appearance and the NBA Most Improved Player Award.