SAN ANTONIO TX - DECEMBER 28: Guard George Hill #3 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during play against the Los Angeles Lakers at AT&T Center on December 28 2010 in San Antonio Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
After being surprised by the members of Area 55 welcoming him back to Indianapolis, George Hill was later a part of a public press conference where plenty of fans showed up to offer their own support for the newest member of the Indiana Pacers. Hill was welcomed with a healthy applause; a good gesture for the local kid who had returned home.
Larry Bird noted that he was especially happy to have George, not only for his on the court play, but because he knew he was getting a great individual away from the game as well, mentioning that issue more than once. He feels Hill's versatility as a combo guard, his driving abilities, and leadership skills he felt the team was in dire needs of; excited that he can be a great leader by example for the young team.
Pacers GM David Morway fielded the business aspect of the acquisition, saying the team had been interested in Hill’s services for a couple of years. The two sides had been engaged in talks in the weeks leading up to the draft, but plenty had to fall into place for the deal to work. Talks began to speed up on Draft Night, around the tenth pick, when the Spurs expressed interest in a couple of players that needed to be there. After the fourteenth pick, San Antonio said they were ready to make the deal.
George himself was "super excited" to be back home, saying it helped to fulfill a dream of his to play for his hometown team. He had some reason to believe the Pacers might be interested, but likely to do with his favor within the Spurs organization, he didn’t think it was going to be possible to play for them.
When he received the news, Hill was on his way to a radio interview in a show for teenagers he was a part of in San Antonio. The news took him a while to process, expressing that it was hard to not have feelings for an organization he had been a part of for the past three years, but sees a lot of doors opening in coming back to Indianapolis. At the end of the day, he understood it’s a business and he has no choice but to accept his new role.
Hill was asked about how he was going to shift his role from being a "kid" in San Antonio to now being one of the more seasoned and respected veterans for the young Pacers team. "You’re making feel old," Hill replied. "I’m only 25." George mentioned that he learned a lot of leadership skills from the champions he played alongside.
What kind of skills? Hill says they taught him the difference between how to be a pro and how to be a professional. While a lot of people are just pros on the court, he said it’s important to be a professional on and off the court. Even though he acknowledges it will be a transition moving into a leadership role, but he doesn’t see it as being a hard one to make, as he sees a lot of motivation with the Pacers and is sure he won’t have to do a lot of leading off the court.
Hill feels the Pacers are just a few steps away, and praised their determination and focus. When asked about how his family felt, he made sure to point out that what was important to his mother and family was that he was happy, not where he was playing, even though he knows they’ll be excited to have him just down the street again.
When asked about what kind of distractions being home would provide, he said that it’s important who you surround yourself with, and that if staying focused were an issue, he wouldn’t have made through his years at IUPUI, which is right in Indianapolis. George also talked about how he wanted to continue his work with underprivileged and needy youths, an extension of the work he was already doing in San Antonio.
George certainly made a great first impression, receiving numerous rounds of applause and expressing the importance of being smart on and off the floor. While his role on the floor will help open up a plethora of possibilities for the Indiana backcourt, it’s his willingness off the court as well that will truly excite fans and local residents alike. Fans in Indiana aren’t hard to please, and Hill brings all of the things "right" about Indiana basketball in spades. It will be exciting to watch him grow and succeed with the blue and gold in and away from the game.