The Pacemakers

Is Paul George on his way to becoming the greatest Pacers player of all-time?  According to teammate Roy Hibbert, he believes that George has all of the tools as well as the drive to have his name one day etched at the top of the list.

“Reggie [Miller] is the man in terms of Pacers legacy. I can see [George] surpassing him. He won’t say it, but I will. He’s aspiring to be great.”  – Roy Hibbert

And while there is no doubt that George possesses the talent to do so, that is a hefty prediction to place on the shoulders of the 23-year old small forward whose only been in the league for four seasons and became a full-time starter last year.

But is it crazy to think that this is possible?  Through the first eight games of the regular season, Paul George is averaging 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.  And what is most impressive about his performances are not his individual numbers but rather the one that matters most, 8-0.  George has his Pacers as the league’s lone undefeated squad and it appears as if it’s not simply a hot streak.  When is the last time the Pacers got off to a start like this?  You would have to go back to the championship season of 1969-70 when Indy was a member of the now defunct ABA.  But before you judge and begin comparing it to an NBA title, remember that the talent pool was split and many stars elected to play with the red, white, and blue ball joining a league that promoted a more uptempo and free-flowing game.  

So who is the greatest Pacer of them all?  Most will immediately point to recent Hall of Fame inductee and current TNT basketball analyst Reggie Miller, who without question is well-deserving of the title.  However there is one name that should never get lost in the shuffle and deserves equal respect – “The Rajah.” 

At age 25 Roger Brown became the first player signed by the Indiana Pacers in 1967. His resume includes averages of 17.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during an eight-year career while leading the Pacers to three ABA championships. He is the franchise’s third all-time leading scorer with 10,058 career points and his number 35 is one of only four numbers retired in team history (Reggie Miller, Mel Daniels and George McGinnis are the other three).  Described by many as one of the greatest one-on-one players of all-time who thrived most in situations when the game was on the line.  His signature moment was actually a three-game capsule as he put on a dazzling display in the last games of the 1970 ABA Finals.  Brown erupted for 53, 39, and 45 points to close out the Los Angeles Stars to bring the first ever championship to Indiana.  Earlier this year, Brown received the utmost recognition for his accomplishments as he was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

So can Paul George channel his inner “Rajah” to lift this storied franchise back to league supremacy?  If he continues at this pace, pushing past the juggernaut of the Miami Heat, and manage to stay in the famed colors of yellow and blue for the duration of his career, we may be looking at the ultimate Pacemaker, King George.