There is a phrase on Paul George's twitter profile that perfectly epitomizes his career as a professional basketball player:
"Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon."
As this saying demonstrates, the Pacers' star does not dwell on "what is" he strives for what he believes "could be." In an extensive interview with SLAM magazine, George let all of his lofty aspirations be known, telling the periodical:
"I have goals. I want to be the Defensive Player of the Year. I want to be First-Team All-NBA. I want to be a Gold Medalist. I want to be a Hall of Famer. I want to be a Champion. Everything that's the highest or the greatest that you can do, I want to do that."
PG's desire to be great is what has propelled him into the upper echelons of the league's elite. It is what pushed him to be last season's Most Improved Player. It is the reason he was an All-Star, and it just might be the impetus behind him achieving, at least, one of his aforementioned goals - winning a Gold Medal.
Last week, in an interview with FIBA.com, George, once again, expressed his desire to be able to represent his country in international competition:
FIBA: The USA will defend their world title in Spain this summer. Is the possibility of being part of the Team USA a goal in your career?
George: Yes, definitely. Playing for Team USA is one of the goals in my career. I would like to be part of the team for sure. It is always special to represent your country and it would be an honour for me to help Team USA win titles. I would like to win NBA titles, but I would also like to win gold medals.
As of Thursday morning, PG came one step closer to making that goal a reality as USA Basketball officially released its 28 player-pool for the next three summers. Included in the list of names chosen are veteran Olympic Gold Medalists and returning World Champions, as well as, a slate of fourteen promising up-and-comers - one of which is Paul George.
The full list of players selected is categorized by ESPN.com as follows:
Veterans: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams.
Newcomers: LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Paul George, Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Korver, David Lee, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson.
PG has been involved with USA basketball the last two summers as both a member of the 2012 Select Team (which prepares the National Team for the 2012 Olympics) and as a participant at the 2013 USA Basketball National Team Minicamp. It was at these functions that George obviously caught the eye of the player-pool selection committee which includes USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski. PG will have to continue to make a good impression on the selection committee this summer if he wants to secure a spot on the 12-man roster that will compete in Spain at the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Fortunately, it appears that the Pacers' star has already left an imprint on Jerry Colangelo, with Scott Agness reporting:
Jerry Colangelo: "We kind of fell in love w/ Paul George when he brought him into our camps years back" … "probably a good bet" to make team— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) January 23, 2014
Of course, even if PG comes up short in his bid to make the team, simply being named to the player-pool is an honor in and of itself.
Unfortunately, it is a distinction that Roy Hibbert will most likely never be able to add to his professional resume. As some may already know, Hibbert, possessing dual-citizenship, chose to participate in international competition as a member of Team Jamaica. His decision to do so, in turn, made him ineligible for future participation with Team USA. Roy later admitted to Pacers.com's Scott Agness, that he regrets playing for Jamaica, stating:
"I wanted to play in the Olympics and then they invited some other guys from my draft class to be centers," Hibbert explained. "I thought I could have been in that group. If I had gotten invited, I wouldn't have played for Team Jamaica. You live and you learn."
According to Pacers.com, Hibbert has been in the process of attempting to secure permission from FIBA to let him out of his commitment to Jamaica in order to join Team USA. Although ESPN's Marc Stein notes that Jamaica is "willing to let Roy go," the prospect of him ever joining USA basketball remains unlikely:
"Yet it appears that Hibbert's only shot, in a process FIBA says must be initiated by USA Basketball, is convincing the sport's international governing body that the prospect of switching from Team Jamaica to Team USA would have some sort of far-reaching domestic impact beyond merely making Coach K's talent pool deeper. Hibbert told Pacers.com that "there has been some dialogue" and that "international lawyers" are working on his behalf, but the vibe still emanating from USAB -- as it was in July when Coach K had nearly 30 of Hibbert's peers convened in Las Vegas for a mini-camp -- continues to be pessimistic when it comes to ever seeing Hibbert in red, white and blue."
If Roy had never competed with Team Jamaica he may have received strong consideration from the selection committee. However, as it stands now, USA basketball has several other candidates at the center position that will be representing Team USA in a spot that could have been his the next three summers.
As for the Pacers, they will have to rely on Paul George to make them, and his country, proud as the franchise's lone representative if he is fortunate enough to be selected to the final 12 man roster that will travel to Spain next summer and Rio in 2016. Of course, counting on PG to achieve a goal is almost always a safe bet. Like he told FIBA.com, "I just want to do everything to be the best player I can be." For the Pacers' star, the sky isn't the limit, at least, not when he can see footprints on the moon.