Paul George discusses his return to Indianapolis

Paul George is back in Indianapolis and tonight will sit on the opposing bench for the first time. The Pacers (16-11), winners of four in a row, host the 12-14 Oklahoma City Thunder, who have yet to hit their stride this season.

This will be George’s first game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since informing Pacers officials that he would not be back for the 2018-19 season. He has that ability because he negotiated to have a player option in his contract that he signed back in 2013.

Wednesday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

VIDEO: Pacers coach Nate McMillan, player discuss facing Paul George

After morning shootaround, George spoke to reporters for five minutes. Watch his full comments below:


What was it like to walk in here?

It was great, good memories here.

Was it bizarre visiting the visiting locker room for a change here?

I didn’t know [know where it was]. Honestly I didn’t. This was a different feel but it’s just thinking about tonight.

You’ve gone through this before with Lance Stephenson and other guys. What are you expecting?

More so it’s just on us. We just got to play some good basketball aside from what the atmosphere is going to be like. It’s about our team and how we’re going to get better and how we can come on the road and start this road trip off right.

A lot of emotions come with returning to a city where you spent a lot of your career here?

Good emotions. I got a chance to see a lot people yesterday when we got in and just be around people that I’ve talked to, I’ve been around, I’ve grown up around here. So it was great. It was great reception coming here.

What do you anticipate to see and hear from the crowd when you walk in?

I’m in comfort zone when I’m on the court. I might be nervous off the court being booed, but being on the court is my comfort zone. It’s basketball, it’s what I do. I’m not losing sleep over it. I’m living my dream getting to play in the NBA and getting to play basketball so if I get booed, I get booed. It’s part of the game. It will make for a good show and I’m looking forward to it. On ESPN.

What impresses you about what the Pacers have done?

They’re playing well. It’s no beating around it. They’re playing well, a young team. I think one of the best things is their ability to push it having so many ball handlers. They’re good. I can see the improvement in Myles [Turner], where he’s taken his game. He’s a lot more poised. Vic has been phenomenal here.

And I would like to piggy-back on what Vic said, in terms of being compared to me. I don’t think you guys (media) or Indiana in general is giving him the respect. I’m done. I’m over with. I moved on, and it’s Vic time. He’s doing great here.

Did you get the closure you needed or wanted?

Yeah, yeah I did. It was more so of Indiana doing well, where they’re at now. That was closure for me. At the end of the day, when we reached out to the front office to tell them our future plans, it was to help them along the way. It was bad at first, so to speak, that they thought this trade wasn’t going to pan out, but it obviously did.

They got two great, young pieces so that was good for me to see that this franchise changed the locker room and is going in the right direction.

Were you upset with the comparisons (between yourself and Oladipo)?

Yeah, it’s not right. Vic has worked extremely hard on his game. He’s worked extremely hard to get to the point where he’s at. He was great coming into this league and he’s only been mentored by great people, playing with Russ. Now this is his opportunity to lead a team and he’s being compared to somebody that he was traded for. This is his team. Let him lead and led him start this era on good terms. From what it sounds like, you guys are annoying him with the comparisons early. Let him live. Let this be his city.

What have you learned in short time with Russell Westbrook?

It’s been great. Russ is a competitor and it’s fun being on the court with a guy that competes every possession. He makes the game extremely easy for myself, for Melo [Carmelo Anthony] because he’s a guy that you can’t keep out of the paint. Guys like those are special in this league because you have to guard them with two people.

Do you have any regrets about how you left?

I think both sides, myself and the front office, would definitely liked to have handled things better. I for sure will take ownership on that. I have no regrets on the outcome.

What specifically would you have done differently?

I know. I know what I would have changed but I’ll keep that to myself.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

[looks up] Those banners. Being a part of putting those banners up with those teams. I think that’s what I’ll remember most is those teams that helped me raised those banners up there.

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