NBA

Paul George.

Paul George's pursuit of LeBron James may fall short but can make him the best

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LeBron James has competed in six straight NBA finals and the self-proclaimed King has been and remains to be exactly that in the Eastern Conference.

He led the Miami Heat there in all four of his seasons on South Beach - winning the title twice - and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the last two campaigns - ending the franchise's trophy drought last year.

It would take a brave man to bet on any player or team getting the better of James in the east in this upcoming season as the Cavs look to defend their title, but there is one player over in Indiana who is determined to do just that; his name is Paul George.

Past Experience

If there is one team and player that has come close to putting an end to LeBron's route to the summit, it is the Indiana Pacers and their All-Star forward.

During his time with the Heat, King James faced off against PG13 and the Pacers in three of his four years in Miami, including twice in the Eastern Conference finals.

In the 2013/14 season - LeBron's last with the Heat - Indiana claimed the number one seed in the east and secured home court advantage for their inevitable meeting with James and the big three.

Having taken a 1-0 series lead, the Pacers crumbled and failed to beat the four-time MVP for a third consecutive year.

Indiana Pacers v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven

The fact that George is the only player that remains from that team shows just what kind of effect that defeat had on the roster. But although he's the last one standing, PG still has that same target in his mind; to knock the king off his throne.

"I've always matched up with him like, 'I know he can do this, I know he can do that,' " George told The Vertical about James. "Not in an awe fashion, but it's more so, 'I'm not supposed to win these games. This is supposed to be the best dude in the NBA. I'm trying to challenge him. I know what I'm up against.'

"Now it's, 'I'm ready. I'm ready for you. I'm a veteran. I know you, you know me. Let's meet here, let's get this job done.' I'm prepared. I've had time to figure this out. I've had time to lick my wounds. I'm ready."

Improvement

His duels with LeBron made him the superstar he is today and he has gone on to become an Olympic Gold Medallist, a three-time All-Star, and an NBA All-Defensive First Team member.

Indiana Pacers v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven

George's mentality is simple; to be the best, you must beat the best and he will not be satisfied until he overcomes the league's top player. This mindset will help him one day become the best player in the league because he's certainly capable of claiming that title.

Even a horrific leg break in the summer of 2014 - which ruled him out for the majority of the 2014-15 campaign - hasn't done his confidence any harm. If anything, he has come back better than ever.

But Indiana will be the biggest beneficiaries as they will see the 26-year-old continue to improve in Nap Town. He is the face of the franchise and Larry Bird recently stated that a max contract awaits the small forward "whenever he wants it".

The chances of George and his Pacer team overcoming LeBron and the Cavaliers are very slim, to say the least, but watching him try will certainly make Indiana a fun team to watch.

Indiana Pacers v Toronto Raptors - Game One

The Indianapolis-based franchise lost to the Toronto Raptors in seven games in the first round of last year's playoffs and the Raptors proved no match for Cleveland, so it's highly unlikely that anyone will be capable of stopping the freight train that is LeBron James reaching a seventh consecutive finals.

PG may not be at the level of LBJ and may never reach those heights in his career, but his ambition of competing with a future Hall of Famer and aiming for that level will stand him in good stead. One day, the league will belong to Paul George. Just not today.

Topics:
Paul George
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers

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