As a kid growing up in a Los Angeles suburb, he was a pretty good basketball player. However, it was his older sister who was the family hoops star. While playing college basketball in California, his hardwood reputation skyrocketed, leading to selection as a first-round NBA draft pick. Eventually this Indiana Pacer became a free agent, and while tempted by the bright lights of a major NBA media market, he chose instead to re-sign with the Pacers.
His name, however, is not Reggie.
The parallels between Pacers swingman Paul George and former Pacers star Reggie Miller are remarkable, including choosing to live in houses overlooking Geist Reservoir. “I guess it’s just history repeating itself,” said Paul during an interview after a recent Pacers practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “We have similar stories. Growing up, my sister, Teiosha, was the big-time basketball player, the town favorite (Palmdale, CA). I was her little brother until I came into my own.”
Come into his own indeed. After just two seasons at Fresno State University, the Pacers grabbed Paul in the 2010 draft (10th overall). Last year was a breakout season for Paul who was selected for the NBA All-Star team. In September, he signed a five-year, $90 million contract extension with Indiana. “I just love the city. Other places can have distractions. Here the city loves basketball, the state loves basketball….I couldn’t beat it,” he said.
It was a busy off-season for Paul. In addition to contract negotiations, he worked hard to improve his game. “It was a chance to come back a better player,” he said. Paul also bought a home this summer in Diamond Pointe and lives about eight houses away from fellow Pacer, George Hill. Growing up, Paul told his parents that someday he’d live in a big house on a lake.
“When George [Hill] told me about Geist, I fell in love the second I was in the area and immediately started looking for a house,” said Paul who also shot down a rumor that he and George had been Geist-area roommates. “We just carpool together,” he smiled.
Paul said he really enjoyed his first summer of lake living. “[Neighbors] are very helpful. The lady next door is in catering, and she brought me desserts and lunch. It was just incredible. Kids come to the door with snacks and treats all the time.” While he’s not bothered that people know where he lives (after all, Paul posted a photo to Instagram), he hopes people will respect his privacy. “As long as they choose an appropriate time to say hello, I’m fine with it,” he explained.
With winter on the horizon, Paul decided not to buy a boat just yet. “I didn’t want to when it’s starting to get cold. Next year I’ll have a boat, maybe a couple of jet skis, for people who want to come over and hang out.” He does notice when passing boaters shout greetings to him while standing on his dock. “Yeah, I get that a lot. I see the big party pontoons come by and people waving. They call out, ‘Good luck, Paul! We’re happy to have you here!’ So it’s great being up there [at Geist].”
Prior to the start of basketball season, Paul’s parents, Paul and Paulette, visited his Geist home for a couple weeks. Every morning, he’d see his dad out on the dock fishing. “My dad’s a big-time fisherman…so he’s been loving it.” Paul also has been known to drop a baited line on occasion. “George [Hill] owns a boat, so I’ll call him up sometimes and say, ‘George, let’s get on the lake.’ He’ll drive his boat over to my dock, pick me up and we’ll go out for the day and do our thing.” Paul also shared that George recently saved his beloved pit bull after the dog fell into the lake. “I wasn’t there at the time. Thank God George was at my house, and he was able to save him. That dog’s my buddy.”
Paul is a big fan of Bella Vita’s Chicken Alfredo but hasn’t yet discovered Mama Bear’s, promising he’ll pay a visit there soon for a cup of coffee. He’s also found a place to call home. “I love it. I enjoy being out there [at Geist]. You guys are friendly. If you guys would like to come by and say hi, make sure you bring some food! Thanks for your hospitality,” he smiled.