Born: May 2, 1990
Birthplace: Palmdale, CA
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Paul Clifton Anthony George (born May 2, 1990) is an American professional basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is a six-time NBA All-Star and four-time All-NBA Team selection, as well as a three-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team.
George played high school basketball for Knight High School before playing two seasons of college basketball at Fresno State. He was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 10th overall pick of the 2010 NBA draft, and earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors. He was named the NBA Most Improved Player in 2013, when he also earned his first All-Star selection. George suffered a broken leg in 2014 while competing for a roster spot on the United States national team for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. He missed most of the 2014–15 season, but recovered to become an All-Star again in 2016, when he also won an Olympic gold medal. He was traded to Oklahoma City in 2017.
George attended Knight High School in Palmdale, California. As a sophomore, he began the season on the JV team, but was moved up to the varsity after the season started. During his junior year, he was the only non-senior on the varsity team starting lineup. Recruiters began noticing George during the summer of 2007, while he competed in AAU tournaments. Sensing George's potential, his coach handed him a leading role his senior season. That year, George led Knight to the Golden League championship, and was named the Golden League Most Valuable Player, the Antelope Valley Press Player of the Year, and a member of the Daily News 2007–08 All-Area Boys' basketball team. He ended his senior year averaging 23.2 points and 11.2 rebounds.
Despite his accomplishments, George was not considered a major prospect by colleges. Rivals.com labeled him as a three-star recruit and ranked him 20th among a class of California prospects that was highlighted by Jrue Holiday and DeMar DeRozan. George verbally committed to Santa Clara, the first school that offered him a scholarship, but he later de-committed from them because his high school coach thought he should keep his options open. After a positive experience attending Teiosha's Midnight Madness event at Pepperdine University, George committed to Pepperdine on August 9, 2007. Midway through his senior season, he de-committed from Pepperdine after coach Vance Walberg resigned from the program. He ultimately chose Fresno State over offers from schools like Georgetown and Penn State because of greater opportunities for playing time.
George played two years at California State University, Fresno, more commonly known as Fresno State. In his first game with the Fresno State Bulldogs, he scored 14 points in a winning effort against Sacramento State. The following game, George recorded 25 points and 10 rebounds in a losing effort against Saint Mary's. Despite the loss, he made an impression with his one-handed slam dunk over Mickey McConnell that earned him SportsCenter's number 1 "Play of the Day" for November 18, 2008. On February 9, 2009, he scored a then career-high 29 points to lead the Bulldogs to an 88-82 victory over Boise State. In the 2009 WAC Tournament, the Bulldogs were matched up against Hawaii and advanced to the quarterfinal against the top-seeded Utah State Aggies. During the game, he forced a career-high 5 steals and finished with a team-high 16 points; however, despite his effort the Bulldogs lost, 85–68. With a 13–21 record, the team failed to qualify for the 2009 NCAA Tournament. He led the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in minutes played (1,176) and finished second in 3-point shooting (44.7%), steals (59) and steals per game (1.74). His 3-point field goal percentage was the third-best in the Fresno State Bulldogs men's basketball program. He started all 34 games and finished the season averaging 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game on 47.0% from the field.
Entering his sophomore season, he was named the most entertaining player in the West region and the eighth most entertaining player in college basketball by Sports Illustrated in their list of the "Top 16 Most Entertaining Players in College Basketball". On January 21, 2010, he sprained his right ankle against Utah State and missed the next four games. He made his return on February 11, scoring a career-high 30 points in a winning effort over eventual WAC Tournament champion New Mexico State. During the 2010 WAC Tournament, he recorded 22 points and 11 rebounds, but his team lost to Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals. The team finished the season 15–18, with George averaging 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 2.2 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 90.9 percent from the line. He was named All-WAC Second-Team and ranked second in the WAC in free throw percentage (90.9%), steals (64) and steals per game (2.2).
On March 31, 2010, George announced that he would forgo his final two seasons of college eligibility at Fresno State and enter the 2010 NBA draft. He made his first appearance on a 2010 mock draft on Draft Express a month into his sophomore season. By May 2010, mock drafts such as Draft Express, ESPN.com, and The Hoops Report predicted that George would be selected 12th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies. Two days before the draft, Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports wrote an article about an anonymous Eastern Conference scout stating that "in five years, Paul George will be the best player to come out of this draft". Hoping to draft Derrick Favors, the Pacers had discussed a draft trade with the Nets that would have sent Danny Granger and the 10th pick to the Nets for Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian and the 3rd overall pick, but the deal fell through. George was invited to sit in the green room during the draft and was selected tenth overall by the Indiana Pacers. He became the highest NBA draft pick in Fresno State history. On July 1, 2010, he signed his rookie contract with the Pacers; a two-year guaranteed deal worth $3.9 million, with team options for a third and fourth year.
On October 27, George made his NBA debut against the San Antonio Spurs, playing 23 minutes and scoring 4 points on 1–5 shooting. In a game against the Washington Wizards, he knocked down five three-pointers and finished with a then-career-high 23 points. George averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists on 45% shooting in his first season, starting 19 of his 61 games. He also showed his defensive skills, leading the team in steals-per-minute. For the 2011 Playoffs, George was one of only two rookies from the 2010 NBA Draft to be in the starting lineup for his team, the other being Landry Fields for the New York Knicks. In the playoffs, the Pacers lost in five games to the Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose. Upon completion of his inaugural season, George was named to the 2011 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
On February 3, 2012, George recorded 30 points, 7 three-pointers made, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 1 blocked shot in a win against the Dallas Mavericks. George was selected to compete in the Slam Dunk Contest and Rising Stars Challenge during the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend. In the Slam Dunk Contest, George completed a 360 windmill dunk in the dark and dunked over teammates Dahntay Jones and Roy Hibbert. However, he lost the contest to Jeremy Evans. He finished the 2011–12 lockout-shortened season with averages of 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 44% shooting, George started all 66 games for the Pacers in the season. After beating the Orlando Magic, who were without Dwight Howard, in five games in the first round, the Pacers lost to the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat 4–2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with George making just 19 of 52 field goals.
During his first two seasons in the NBA, George played mostly the shooting guard position. However, with Danny Granger missing nearly the entire season due to knee and calf injuries, George began playing the small forward position and became the go-to offensive option for the Pacers in his third season. On November 21, 2012, George made nine three-pointers en route to a career-high 37 points in a victory against the New Orleans Hornets. The nine 3-pointers broke the franchise record for most 3-pointers made in a single game, surpassing Hall of Famer Reggie Miller. George was named the NBA's Player of the Week for the first time in his career in December, winning three straight games against Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Detroit. He recorded his first career triple-double in a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on February 13, 2013, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists and 2 steals. That same season, George was selected to play in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston for the first All-Star selection of his career. He recorded 17 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists on 7-of-13 shooting in 20 minutes for the East, but they lost to the West, 143–138. George averaged career highs of 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists, and was the only player in the league with at least 140 steals and 50 blocks. At the conclusion of the regular season, he was named the NBA Most Improved Player.
In Game 1 of the Pacers' 2013 NBA Playoffs first-round series versus the Atlanta Hawks, George recorded his first career playoff triple-double, tallying 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a 107–90 win. It was the first postseason triple-double by a Pacers player since Mark Jackson had one in the 1998 playoffs. On May 13, 2013, George was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. George led the Pacers with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks on May 14, 2013 in a 93–82 victory. In Game 1 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, George made a three-point field goal at the end of the fourth quarter to tie the game and force an overtime period. During overtime, Dwyane Wade fouled George with 2.2 seconds remaining. Despite George making all 3 free-throws and putting his team up 102-101, the Pacers ultimately lost as LeBron James drove in for a buzzer beater lay-up. To cap off a great 2012–13 campaign, George was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
On September 25, 2013, the Indiana Pacers extended George's contract, electing him to be their designated player. The extension, which will start at the end of his rookie contract in 2014, is a "5/30" designated player extension (5 years and 30% of the salary cap), subject to passing the "Derrick Rose" test. George had to be elected to one further All-NBA team (at any level) or be the MVP during the 2013–14 season to qualify for the 30% extension. If he met either of these criteria, the 30% extension is estimated to be worth around $90 million over the 5-year deal. If he had failed to meet the criteria, he would be contracted at 25% of the salary cap.
The Pacers started the 2013–14 season 9–0 for the first time in franchise history. George finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in a 99–91 victory over the Detroit Pistons. He then posted 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists during a 91–84 win over the Toronto Raptors on November 8. The following day he scored 24 points and added 6 rebounds in a 96–91 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. For his efforts, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. With nine wins to start the season, Indiana became the first NBA team to start the season 9–0 since the Dallas Mavericks in the 2002–03 season. The Pacers undefeated streak ended at 9–0 against the Bulls on November 16. On December 2, 2013, he scored a career high 43 points, along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists, in a 102-106 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The following day, George was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month, the first time in his career, for the month of November while leading the Pacers to a 15-1 record. The Pacers finished the regular season with an incredible 56-26 record. In the 2014 playoffs, the Pacers eliminated the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards in the first two rounds. In game 4 against the Wizards, George scored a playoff career-high 39 points. The Pacers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat for the third straight year. For his efforts, George was named to the All-NBA third team, qualifying him for the full 30% extension, and All-Defensive First Team.
During the 2014 offseason, George was named to the training camp roster for the US national team that would represent the country at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. He had been considered a virtual lock to make the roster. However, on August 1, George landed awkwardly at the base of a basket stanchion after fouling James Harden during a Las Vegas scrimmage, and suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg. After George was carted off the court, head coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the arena stating the game would not continue out of respect to George and his family. George quickly went into surgery for the fracture, with a pin being inserted in the leg. While no official prognosis was initially given, he was considered likely to miss the entire 2014–15 season. George, who had said he wanted to play at some time during the season, was cleared to put weight on the leg in late September, and was shooting jumpers in practice in late October. He participated in his first full practice of the season on February 26, three days earlier than expected, and was ruled a possibility to play within a week on March 20. On April 5, George made his return to the Pacers line-up for the first time since sustaining his leg injury with Team USA. He scored 13 points in 15 minutes and made two key three-pointers early in the fourth quarter, helping the Pacers defeat the Miami Heat 112–89. He played out the final six games of the season for Indiana, averaging 8.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
In the Pacers' 2015–16 season opener against the Toronto Raptors on October 28, George recorded 17 points on 4-of-17 shooting and 12 rebounds in a 106–99 loss. After publicly criticizing the referees following the game, he was fined $10,000. On November 6, he scored 36 points in a 90–87 win over the Miami Heat. Three days later, he scored 27 points, including a career-high 19 points in the first quarter, to lead the Pacers to a 97–84 win over the Orlando Magic. On November 24, George scored 40 points and made seven three-pointers, part of a franchise-record 19 by the Pacers in a 123–106 victory over the Washington Wizards. On December 3, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for games played in October and November. George led the Eastern Conference and ranked fourth in the NBA in scoring (27.2 ppg), helping the Pacers win 11 of 13 games after an 0–3 start. Two days later, he scored a career-high 48 points in a 122–119 overtime loss to the Utah Jazz. George competed for the Eastern Conference in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto, where he started and was the game's leading scorer with 41 points, finishing one point shy of the All-Star game record set by Wilt Chamberlain (42) in 1962. On March 19, he had a 45-point game in a 115–111 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. George helped the Pacers return to the playoffs in 2016, finishing as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a 45–37 record.
On April 16, 2016, George played in his first playoff game since 2014, as he scored 33 points in a Game 1 victory over the second-seeded Toronto Raptors. In Game 5 of the series, George scored 39 points in a losing effort, as the Pacers fell behind 3–2. The Pacers went on to lose the series in seven games.
Following the 2015–16 season, George joined the United States national team for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the Pacers' season opener on October 26, 2016, George scored 25 points in a 130–121 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks. On November 1, he scored 30 points, including Indiana's final 12 of the game, to rally the Pacers to a 115–108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. On December 10, he scored a then season-high 37 points, including 13 straight in the fourth quarter, to lead the Pacers to a 118–111 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. On January 29, 2017, he scored 33 points in a 120–101 win over the Houston Rockets, matching a career high by topping the 30-point mark for the fourth straight game. On March 15, 2017, he made six three-pointers and scored 27 of his season-high 39 points in the second half of the Pacers' 98–77 win over the Charlotte Hornets. On April 2, 2017, he had a 43-point effort in a 135–130 double overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. On April 14, 2017, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for games played in April. George averaged an NBA-high 32.8 points and added 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists as the Pacers went 5–1 in April to clinch a playoff spot for the sixth time in seven seasons.
In Game 3 of the Pacers' first-round playoff match-up with Cleveland on April 20, George scored 36 points, grabbed a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and finished with nine assists, one short of his second postseason triple-double. After leading 74–49 at halftime, Pacers went on to lose the game 119–114 to go down 3–0 in the series.
On July 6, 2017, George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. The Thunder acquired him in spite of his pending free agent status the following year and George's stated preference to join the Los Angeles Lakers in his native Southern California. In his debut for the Thunder in their season opener on October 19, 2017, George scored a team-high 28 points in a 105–84 win over the New York Knicks. On November 10, 2017, he scored a season-high 42 points in a 120–111 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He made 13 of 22 shots and had nine rebounds and seven assists. After starting the season with an 8–12 record, the Thunder improved to 20–15 with a 124–107 win over the Toronto Raptors on December 27. George scored 33 points against the Raptors and went 7 of 10 from 3-point range, tying the Thunder record for 3-pointers in a game. On January 20, 2018, he had a 36-point effort in a 148–124 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. On January 27, 2018, George was named as a replacement for the injured DeMarcus Cousins on Team LeBron for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. On February 1, 2018, he scored a season-high 43 points in a 127–124 loss to the Denver Nuggets. In the Thunder's regular season finale on April 11, 2018, George scored 40 points in a 137–123 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He went 13 of 20 from the field, including eight of 14 3-pointers. In Game 1 of the Thunder's first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz, George scored 36 points in a 116–108 win. He set an Oklahoma City playoff record with eight 3-pointers, making eight of 11 shots from long range, and 13 of 20 shots overall. In Game 4, George scored a team-high 32 points in a 113–96 loss. In Game 5, George recorded 34 points and eight rebounds, as the Thunder rallied from 25 points down in the second half to fight off elimination and beat the Jazz 107–99. The Thunder went on to lose Game 6 to bow out of the playoffs with a 4–2 defeat; George had a game-high eight assists in Game 6, but scored just five points on 2-of-16 shooting.
While he still wanted to return to Southern California, George also "loved the situation" with Oklahoma City. He decided weeks before free agency began on July 1, 2018, that he would stay with the Thunder, and never arranged a meeting with the Lakers. On July 6, George re-signed with the Thunder to a reported four-year, $137 million contract. On November 8, he had 20 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and six steals in a 98–80 win over the Houston Rockets, helping the Thunder win seven straight after starting the season 0–4. On November 14, he scored a then season-high 35 points in a 128–103 win over the New York Knicks. On December 5, he scored 25 of his 47 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left that gave the Thunder a 114–112 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. On December 19, he recorded 43 points and 12 rebounds in a 132–113 win over the Sacramento Kings. On December 22, he had 43 points and 14 rebounds in a 107–106 win over the Jazz. On January 29, he scored 31 of his 37 points in the first half of the Thunder's 126–117 win over the Orlando Magic. On February 1, he scored 43 points and had a career-high 10 3-pointers in a 118–102 win over the Miami Heat. On February 5, he scored 39 points in a 132–122 win over the Magic, thus scoring at least 37 points for the fifth straight game. On February 9, he scored 45 points in a 117–112 win over the Rockets. On February 11, he recorded his third career triple-double with 47 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 120–111 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. On February 22, he scored 45 points and hit the game-winning floater with 0.8 seconds left in the second overtime to lift the Thunder to a 148–147 win over the Jazz. He was named Western Conference Player of the Month for February.The Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Trail Blazers in five games, despite George scoring 36 points in game five.
Personal Life and Family
George was born in Los Angeles County in Palmdale, California, and is the son of Paul George and Paulette George. He grew up with two older sisters: Teiosha, who played basketball at Pepperdine, and Portala, who played volleyball at CSU-San Bernardino. George idolized Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and he grew up rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. George spent most of his free time playing basketball at the park or one-on-one against his older sister Teiosha. He did not play organized basketball until his freshman year at Knight High School He played for the varsity basketball team his last three years of high school under head coach Tom Hegre. George played for Pump and Run of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) with future UCLA Bruins Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee
Thompson has been openly gay since coming out via Twitter in October 2012 and is married to Scott Blokker.