With the NBA season tipping off Tuesday, ThePostGame caught up with the Indiana Pacers forward, who is one month removed from signing a max contract. George discussed his new deal, his offseason workouts and his excitement for next week's release of Call of Duty: Ghosts.
ThePostGame: You're a big Call of Duty fan, and Call of Duty: Ghosts hits shelves next week. How excited are you for the release?
PAUL GEORGE: I'm real excited. I’m a huge Call of Duty fan. It almost sucks—I get too good at one and then I’ve got to wait for the next one to come out. It’s always a whole year apart. I think I got to slow down on my killing.
TPG: The game is coming out right at the start of the season. Is that going to be a problem for you or are you still going to find time to play?
GEORGE: No, it’ll be perfect because when I chill on the road a lot of times I don’t have much stuff to do. It’ll be good for me to take up some time and help me really relax in my room and kind of lay low.
TPG: We spoke with Roy Hibbert over the summer and he said he was pretty into it. So who’s better, you or him?
GEORGE: I think we can both agree, me and Roy, that I’m much better than him at Call of Duty. Roy’s the type of guy where he’s got to start off good, he’s got to get a couple of kills, a nice little kill streak. If not he’ll call it quits and try back in another 30 minutes.
TPG: Safe to say you're the best on the Pacers?
GEORGE: [laughs] It’s safe to say that.
TPG: It’s been about a month since you signed your contract. What's the reaction been like from family, friends and fans?
GEORGE: I think everybody has just been happy for me. It’s been an overwhelming feeling. Everyone’s excited and it feels good. To come from a small city, but I had a big family behind me, and everybody was really there to support me and back me up. It’s almost like everyone’s vicariously living through me.
It’s just me now doing the right things and taking care of business.
TPG: Looking back on this offseason, with Indiana's run and your contract negotiations, it must’ve been a whirlwind for you. Did you have some time to relax and take your mind off of the game?
GEORGE: I had a little time. When you make it as far as we made it in the conference finals and you get so close, it’s always in the back of your mind. It’s something that always doesn’t sit well with you. We were one game away from being in the Finals and having a chance to win it all.
It did keep me in the gym a lot and it did keep my mind moving a lot. But I did find some time to kind of let it go out for a little bit and just relax.
TPG: You've said after last season you wanted to work on conditioning. What did you do this offseason?
GEORGE: I really did take a big interest in working on my body and working on my conditioning. I would run Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles three or four times a week, and it helped build my legs and build my endurance.
TPG: Besides conditioning, what other specific areas are you looking to improve this year?
GEORGE: Now at this stage, guys have sweet spots on the court and spots where they feel the most comfortable shooting the ball. Spots that they want to get to. So that’s really what this past summer was about, just knowing spots on the floor where I want the ball and I think I can be most efficient at. Just learning myself, really. Most of the summer was just about me and spots I like to operate at.
TPG: In a recent poll of NBA players you were selected as the one player who guys would choose to guard LeBron James. It's probably the hardest job in the NBA. What have you been able to do against him that has led to some success?
GEORGE: I think it’s just because of length. Length bothers a lot of people in this league ... It’s just me being active with my hands on LeBron and just trying to make him uncomfortable. It's tough to do, and he’s probably one of the hardest guys to do that on. But it's really using my hands, using the quick feet and just using defensive instincts to make it a hard time for him.
TPG: You guys have beaten the Heat five times over the past two years in the playoffs. What’s been the key for you in matching up against them?
GEORGE: We’re a big team, and that’s probably the one area that the Heat always lack in – their size. That was on our side every time we match up with them, that we’re a little bigger than they are. So we used that against them. We use Roy a lot, posting up and protecting the paint and rebounding the ball.
With a type of team like that you can’t let them get fast breaks or offensive rebounds. It's already tough to guard them but when you get those extra things, that’s when they become elite and almost impossible to beat. I think that’s what we did really well against them.
TPG: Taking into account last season’s Eastern Conference Finals run, your new contract and the high expectations for the Pacers, do you feel more pressure going into this season?
GEORGE: Not really. The pressure is there, but I don’t really feel like it’s more pressure. I know it's pressure towards me wanting to come out of my shell and be our go-to guy and be our lead guy. But I don’t think it’s any added pressure because of contracts or any of that stuff. I don’t let it get to me. I’m going to continue to step on the court, do the same thing I’ve done so well.
The only thing now is I’m ready for that moment. I’m ready to embrace that moment and step up to the challenge.
TPG: Looking at the group that you guys have, is the anticipation this season different than other years?
GEORGE: I think so. Now we have the experience, so we can’t blame it on being inexperienced. We have the core, we have the same group of guys that have been here for three or four years now … We really don’t have any excuses that we were floating by in the previous years. We’ve got an upgrade in the bench, which we’ve lacked most of our years here. I think all our cards are being shown and everything is out there now.
There are no secrets about this team.