Notes from Paul George’s first comments post-surgery

Paul George was impressive in speaking about his injury that’ll challenge him.

Paul George was driven from his Geist home to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in his convertible sports car. Upon arrival, a hundred or so team employees lined the path from Delaware Street to the dock, holding signs of “We Love Paul” and cheering him on.

Then, 15 days after surgery and 10 days since he returned to Indianapolis, George, on crutches, walked to the table in the interview room, sat down, and spoke to the media for the first time.

[HD VIDEO: Paul George returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse]

George’s parents, Paul Sr. and Paulette, along with Pacers coach Frank Vogel watch Paul address reporters, fans.

Below are the key takeaways from the nearly 29-minute press conference.

  • He started off by thanking everyone — his family, his Pacers family, USA Basketball, fans and his sponsors.
  • “It’s something that I think I can overcome. It’s a bump in the road, but I’ll be able to battle through this. It’ll be a story that I can tell, a testimony that I’ll have, and something that’ll make me stronger.”
  • George on the last few weeks: “They’ve been tough. I can’t lie, they’ve been tough. As the week goes on, they get a little easier. As of know, it’s kind of been just lounging around, catching up with TV series, playing video games, and just enjoying my family.”
  • George doesn’t want to put a timeline on his recovery, calls it a “day-to-day” process. He said doctors inserted a rod down his right leg, with pins in his knee and ankle to keep it in place.
  • It’s the worst injury, by far, George has had. He’s never broken a bone. A swollen ankle or sore back is about it.
  • His first reaction was shock, “I couldn’t believe it was me that this happened to. … When I looked down and saw my bone sticking out, I knew it was bad. I had felt pain before, and this was a pain that I’ve never felt before. So I knew how bad it was once it happened.”
  • What did it feel like? “It felt like gasoline was on my leg and someone lit a match. Internally, just on fire. My leg felt like it was in flames.” That was for about 10 minutes. Then, he said his body went into shock and he took his mind off of it.
  • Roy Hibbert flew to Las Vegas to be with him in the hospital. George joked how Hibbert brought him “lots of goodies,” – some gummy bears, as well as a silk and fur blanket. C.J. Watson, who spends his offseason in Vegas, saw him before surgery; Vogel made it there a day after surgery (Sunday), immediately after returning to the U.S. from vacation. Teammates George Hill and Chris Copeland have both been over to his house.
  • “That really meant a lot to have my guys there by my side, because it was a tough time for me.”
  • George will be tested mentally, more so than physically, during the rehab process. A few days ago, he met with team psychologist, Dr. Chris Carr, who is helping him approach and attack his recovery “the right way.” The hardest part is conquering everything with your mind, but “it’ll make me stronger.”
  • “I’m not looking at this as something that’s negative for my career. It’s something that I will overcome. I plan on making a full recovery through this.”
  • PG is taking the injury as positive as you can. He plans to learns a lot from the sideline, better himself for when the time is right, and take a greater role in mentoring teammates.
  • On the Pacers moving forward this season: “This team is still competitive. I don’t want the fans to lose hope, lose sight. … I look forward to them still having the same drive, the same commitment – being the team that everybody came to love out here in Indiana. I honestly, deep down, believe that this team can get a lot of stuff accomplished this year.”
  • It took George three or four days to get past the doubt in his mind and move forward. He has bad days and needs lifted up after such a difficult injury, but he’s getting through it.
  • A number of celebrities have reached out to him, including Floyd Mayweather, Jr., David Beckham, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Coach K, and so many of his USA Basketball teammates.
  • George calls the criticism USA Basketball has received “unfair.” He believes they should not be shouldering the blame. “Freak accidents happen. Sucks I was on the bad side of it.”
  • With USA Basketball playing an exhibition game in Chicago Saturday night, George said he had considered going. However, he doesn’t want to steal the attention away from USA Basketball and what they’re doing. He does plan to watch, though.
  • George plans to continue with USA Basketball. He’s already thought about the 2016 Olympics, being part of the team. Oh, and he knows they’re in Brazil. Maybe that is added motivation for him.
  • Now PG-13, George said he is ready to “come into my own.” He had discussions with his agent prior to his rookie season about wearing 13, to help him become a household name. Then, prior to the 2012-13 season, his third in the league, he applied to change it but Miles Plumlee decided to wear it.
  • He has watched the replay just once … “and that’ll be the last time I see that video. I really want to put all that behind me.”

(Listen to the entire press conference in the embedded media player below, or click here.)

[audio:|titles=Paul George post-injury]

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