Paul George has found another reason to enjoy Indianapolis — one that is obvious only to those that know him extremely well.

“It’s great fishing here” said George who has fond memories of family fishing trips while growing up in southern California. “Nice or bad weather I’ll have a line in the water.”

On the verge of superstardom in a league that often sees its young stars pursue the bright lights of higher-profile cities George has found a home in Indianapolis professionally and personally.

After living Downtown during his first three years with the Pacers George who said earlier this week he will sign a long-term contract with the team prior to the season has moved near Geist Reservoir.

David West is the Pacers’ veteran spiritual leader. Lance Stephenson gives them an edge. Longtime star Danny Granger returns after playing in just five games last season. George Hill is the local hero.

But the cornerstone of a team that enters the season with its highest expectations in nearly a decade is George.

“I’m a homebody” George said during an interview with The Star at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this week. “And being in Indiana you have to be a homebody.

“Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of things that attract people here. But it’s a different city. If you want glitz and glamor this is not it and it shouldn’t be. Go somewhere else. It’s working class and I take pride in that because I’m a hard worker.”

That’s not a surprise considering where he came from.

Other side of the hill
Palmdale Calif. is a city of about 155000 in northern Los Angeles County but it doesn’t have much in common with the City of Angels. It takes about an hour to drive to downtown L.A. and requires passing over the San Gabriel Mountains.

“No one really wants to go past that hill” George said with a laugh.

There is little of the glitz and glamor associated with much of southern California. Palmdale took off on the back of the booming aerospace industry in the second half of the 20th century. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman remain primary employers.

It isn’t even much like Los Angeles when it comes to weather. It sits in the high desert 2600 feet above sea level. Summers are hot and dry. Winters are cold and rainy and it sometimes even snows. The median home price is $166800 according to less than half of the rest of California.

Truth be told it may have more in common with Indianapolis than Los Angeles.

“It doesn’t attract a crowd” George said.

But it was just the right place for his mom (Paulette) and dad (also named Paul) to raise George and his two older sisters. Portala played volleyball at Cal State-San Bernadino and Teiosha played basketball at Pepperdine.

“We had big dreams” George said. “We knew our parents were not going to be able to put us through college. Sports was going to have to pull us through.”

The Georges were a close bunch — and became even moreso after Paulette suffered a stroke when Paul was 10 that left her paralyzed on the left side of her body.

Tom Hegre George’s coach at Pete Knight High School in Palmdale said that strong family structure showed in the way he carried himself.

“One of the big things about Paul is just the commitment he had to his teammates” Hegre said. “He has always been concerned about what teammates feel and what they are thinking and always had a great influence on the players around him.”

George stood just 6-foot as a freshman but had long arms and Hegre was well aware of 6-4 Teiosha so he figured George would grow.

He did. As a junior George was the only non-senior starter on a team that went 22-4. He played for the Los Angeles-based Pump ‘N Run travel team the following summer with current New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holliday.

As a 6-7 senior he averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds and led Knight to the California Interscholastic Federation’s Southern Division finals in the large-school class. That was a huge achievement in the talent-rich Los Angeles San Diego and surrounding areas.