George expects boos in return to Indiana
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP):
Paul George knows the crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse well enough to expect a rude reception when he returns for the first time tonight.
George spent seven seasons with the Indiana Pacers, and the four-time All-Star helped them reach the Eastern Conference Finals twice. After last season, George's camp made it clear Indiana didn't figure into his long-term plans, so the disappointed Pacers traded him to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, rather than risk getting nothing in return for him.
Indiana fans value loyalty - the player they hold in the highest regard, Reggie Miller, stayed with the Pacers for 18 years. They had their hearts broken back in 2005-06 when Ron Artest demanded a trade, the first step in the dismantling of a nucleus the Pacers expected to compete for NBA titles for years to come.
George, also a one-time centrepiece to Indiana's title hopes, is gone, too. He figures boos will rain down as a result.
"I honestly wouldn't think it would be any other way," he said. "The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans, so that's what I'm looking forward to. I'm going to embrace that. I'm going to thrive on that. It's going to give me the energy to play better."