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Paul George named Best Comeback Player by NBPA

From a potentially career-threatening injury to starring on Team USA, Paul George's peers have deemed his comeback award-winning.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Exactly two years and three days since Paul George crashed into a basket stanchion and suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture which cost him 76 games during the 2014-15 season, the two-way star's determined resurgence into the upper echelons of the league's elite has caught the attention and earned the respect of his peers, who voted him the 2015-16 Best Comeback Player.

Created to give players a voice in selecting award winners, the second annual Players Awards are organized and administered by the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).

"It's always nice to be recognized for your accomplishments, but it's extra special to win an award when you know it's voted on by your peers," said NBPA President Chris Paul. "The Players Voice Awards allow us to celebrate the best performers of the year, and have some fun with the non-traditional categories."

After appearing in only six games during the 2014-15 season, George, as one of only two players in the league to average at least 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and 1.5 steals, was named to his third All-Star game and earned his third selection to the All-NBA Third Team as well as his third overall selection to an NBA All-Defense roster. Remarkably, the 6-foot-9 wing, who was tasked with retraining himself how to run, jump, and cut on a surgically repaired leg, was one of only four players to log over 195 total miles this season.

The Pacers returned to the playoffs after a one-season hiatus due in large part to George's return. Per NBA.com, Indiana's defensive rating was 96.6 with George on the floor in the post-season. That number ballooned to 109.5 with him on the bench. Overall, the Pacers were an astounding 40.4 points per 100 possession better with Paul George on the floor compared to when he was on the bench in the playoffs.

"The doctor told me two years would be the time span of this whole injury, for when I'd start feeling back to normal," George told NBA.com's Steve Aschburner. "It's almost funny -- the reason why I played so well, I felt, in the Toronto series was, that's the best I felt all season. My body just felt amazing. My athleticism felt good, my foot speed felt faster. I finally felt good again."

After returning from an injury that could have been career threatening, Paul George not only triumphantly stepped back onto the NBA court, he looked the ghosts of his past in the eye by agreeing to rejoin Team USA.

"You can tell he carries an aura about him now. That I don't know if he had it before," Kyrie Irving told The Vertical's Michael Lee. "Sometimes, adversity can do that to you. And it has a way of shaping a person's life like no other. None of us were there when he was going through rehab. None of us were here when he was in his bedroom alone, thinking about life, how he was going to get back. None of us were there when he was trying to figure out, what is the next step? That right there builds character. I can feel it. I can see it."

Tomorrow night, in an award-winning comeback moment that could not have been better scripted, George will represent his country as he walks into the arena for the 2016 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.