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Daily double: Paul George and Colts’ preseason football

Well, it’s been a week. By now you’ve seen the gruesome video of Paul George’s injury. There’s no need to describe it in any detail, but, suffice it to say, my stomach turned a little. I had two thoughts in the immediate aftermath. The first was: “I hope his career isn’t over.” The second was: “The Pacers are done for next season.”

There have been many speculative reports about how and what the Pacers will do in PG’s absence. After losing their main offensive threat and wing defender, it’s fair to say they’ll struggle. If you follow Nate Silver’s 538 Twitter feed, their stats suggest the Pacers could win 44 games. Maybe. I think they’ll win 38. They have applied for a disability exception with the NBA to add a veteran player to fill out the roster. But that’s not what this is about.

Seeing that injury take place was personally disheartening. It was like helplessly watching as a family member was injured. I don’t think I’m overstating idea that most of us weren’t so much concerned with the season as we were with Paul himself. The Pacers had a banner you could sign with get well wishes for PG. That’s more than a little unusual for an athlete with an injury, even one as serious as Paul’s. He means something to this community.

Superstars usually arrive at a franchise with a tremendous amount of fanfare (Peyton, Luck, Lebron, etc.). Paul George was different. Don’t lie to me and say that you knew who he was when he was drafted out of Fresno State with the tenth pick back in 2010. I scratched my head over the pick and hoped that he would turn out to be a solid bench player. But there was no indication that he would be an All Star, an MVP candidate, the face of the franchise, and the hope for a championship.

In some respects, his rise reminds me a little of Reggie Miller’s. Reggie arrived from UCLA without much expectation and then became the Knick-killer, Jordan-harasser, face of the franchise Hall-of-Famer. He was (is) beloved in Indianapolis. He won the Circle City over with his fearlessness and his tireless effort and his big shots. It still pains me that he never won a championship here.

Paul George was on a similar track except his growth was slower. He seemed to be comfortable in Danny Granger’s shadow and then slowly emerged as a great basketball player – almost a reluctant hero. Last season he saw a glimpse of what he could become. It’s frustrating, not only for him, but also for a city that was embracing him, to see his career halted by a devastating injury.

My hope is that, due to the nature of the break, he heals and comes back to full strength. The early prognosis is just that. The fact that he’s 24 years old and an elite athlete should help his recovery process. But seeing the picture of Coach Krzyzewski hugging PG in the hospital bed was comforting and sobering at the same time. It underscored the trauma of the injury.

The Pacers’ season is probably scuttled when you add this injury to the sudden rise of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the resurgence of the Chicago Bulls. But I hope that we don’t see Paul George’s return and wonder what might have been. I’m rooting for him because, in spite of a few social media errors, he’s been great for Indy. He made the Pacers fun again and gave the city a reason to be proud. Get well soon, PG!

 

Photo - Colts.com
Photo – Colts.com

Is there a more useless exercise than preseason NFL football? I watched the Colts’ first offensive and defensive series and I can’t figure out why I watched that much. I know that teams use it as a major part of their evaluation process, but I’ve seen intramural softball games with more excitement than that Colts/Jets scrimmage. Khaled Holmes’ ankle injury was the only thing that got me worked up.

The thing is I don’t have a better solution. And I don’t think it needs fixing either. It’s preseason football. It matters only to the players who are trying to make the team. Anybody who gets worked up over preseason wins and losses needs to reevaluate their lives. I don’t care if the preseason is shortened or not. I’m not going to watch much more until the season opener on September 7 against Denver.

There was one nice diversion courtesy of recently waived running back Chris Rainey’s tweets of bitterness. They were fun and informative. After being told that he was on a short leash because of his behavior, he decided to play with fire extinguishers – it’s better than pulling the fire alarm. I can’t imagine why he was released.

So I guess the preseason is good in that it makes roster decisions easier. And it whets your appetite for the season ahead. The only thing that matters to me is that the Colts get through these next three games without any more major injuries. Go ahead and play out the preseason, but don’t bother me unless somebody gets hurt. Go Colts!

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