Brian Golden

Brian Golden/Valley Press

I

t was amazing enough when he became the 10th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, only two years out of Knight High School.

But then he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.

And he came within one LeBron James backdoor layup of taking the Indiana Pacers to the 2013 NBA Finals.

The Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs. 

They would have had to roll out the old red, white and blue ABA ball.

He was chosen one of the 15 best basketball players on the planet in 2016.

He has the Olympic gold medal from Rio de Janeiro to prove it.

“The award I really want to win,” George told his hometown newspaper in 2013, “is NBA Defensive Player of The Year.”

This could be the year.

The same year Paul and Paulette George’s son wins the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Paul George, MVP.

Of course, he’s been the Most Versatile Player, and Most Venerated Palmdalian, for the better part of a decade now.

Palmdale’s favorite son is averaging career highs in scoring (27.3 points per game), rebounding (8.1) and steals (2.3).

Today’s fun fact:

How many players in NBA history have averaged 26 points, eight rebounds and more than two steals per game?

Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler — and our Knight in Shining Armor.

In the shadow of James Harden’s January Rocketry, PG-13 averaged 30 points per game in January.

Most important of all to our former neighbor, he helped lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to third overall in the NBA’s Western Conference.

See, George doesn’t want to go places unless he can take others with him.

It was that way with Coach Tom Hegre’s Knight Hawks en route to the state championship tournament in 2008.

It was that way when he bought up all the inventory of his former No. 24 Pacers merchandise and divided it between the kids at Knight High and the Palmdale Boys and Girls Club.

It was that way last summer at Castaic, when the Paul George Fishing Tournament raised thousands of dollars for refurbishment of dozens of public basketball courts in his hometown.

Paul George remains the basketball version of the Jamaican Bobsled Team.

The best player in the NBA hails from a place more suited to horizontal sports like soccer, baseball and football, where, when you play outdoors, the nuclear winds take your jump shot from the corner and turn it into a punt?

“No, no, that was really a benefit to me,” George says. “I learned to take tough shots playing outdoors growing up in Palmdale.

“You have to figure out a way to overcome the guy guarding you, and the defense collapsing on you, and the wind and the weather conditions. Believe me, dealing with all that got me into great habits that have helped me ever since.”

Like Palmdale, Oklahoma City has the wind come sweeping down the plain. 

It has a major Air Force base nearby.

Its friendly people, just like PG-13’s hometown, are its greatest asset.

No wonder he loves it there so much.

The kid who once won the NBA countless times on his driveway basketball court is now doing it everywhere.

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