Paul George took a ride downtown on a beautiful Friday afternoon in his brand new Ferrari. George may not even play for the Indiana Pacers this season, but still received a star's welcome at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pacers Sports and Entertainment employees lined the underground parking ramp and cheered as George arrived for a news conference.
"If I do have the opportunity to make a comeback, I'm looking forward to it," said George. "If not, I don't mind taking a year off to get better for the next season."
Paul moved on crutches two weeks after breaking his lower right leg in a gruesome fall in Las Vegas while playing in a USA Basketball scrimmage. The Pacers 24-year-old All-Star forward made his first public appearance Friday since the injury.
Paul has watched video of the injury only once and says he won't watch it again.
"It felt like gasoline was on my leg and someone lit a match, internally just on fire," said George. "My leg felt like it was in flames. When I looked down and saw my bone sticking out, I knew it was bad. I've felt pain before. This was a pain I've never felt before."
George did not blame USA Basketball or the basket stanchion for his injury and still hopes to play in the next Olympics.
"Freak accidents happen," he said. "It sucks how I was on the bad side of it. They don't deserve any criticism for this. I would love to still be a part of Team USA in 2016. At the end of the day it's all about representing our country and trying to bring home gold."
George expects a full recovery and holds on to some hope that he might return this season. But even if he can't, he promises to remain involved with the team during his recovery.
"I don't want the fans to lose hope, lose sight of what Coach Vogel built, Larry (Bird) put together, what KP (general manager Kevin Pritchard) put together, what Herb (Simon) put together," said George. "This team is going to be a team that's going to go out there and compete."
For now, he hobbles back to his house for lots of sleep, TV and video games - restless for the day he can get back on the court.
"It's something that I think I can overcome," he said. "It's a bump in the road, but I'll be able to battle through this. It will be a story that I can tell, a testimony that I'll have and something that will make me stronger."
Paul says he has received visitors and get well wishes from all over the NBA and sports world.
"A huge thanks to all of my fans who have been behind me," said George. "NBA fans, USA Basketball fans, of course the Pacers fans - they made this process very easy for me to overcome."
George also explained why he is changing his jersey number from 24 to 13. He says the "PG-13" identity will allow him to embrace everything that comes with being a young star in the NBA. He wants fans to enjoy the PG-13 show. When that show returns to NBA theatres is unknown.