The Indiana Pacers are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, marking their fourth loss in a row to put their record at 13-12, dropping them to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, officially in Play-In territory.
In this loss, the Pacers defense could not stop a fly, with James Harden having his best game of the season with 40 points, Kawhi Leonard going for 28, and Paul George going for 27.
This was an interesting night for George, as he has recently been linked to a potential reunion with Indiana that has ramped up drastically this season. To fully understand Paul George's departure from Indy and why a Pacers reunion would be monumental for George, the Pacers, and the league in general, we must go back.
From 2012 to 2014, Paul George kept the Indiana Pacers relevant during Danny Granger's gradual decline due to injury. In three straight seasons, Indiana matched up with Miami in the playoffs, with the final two coming in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Pacers always coming up short in the end.
After a gruesome knee injury and watching his supporting cast gradually decline in production or go elsewhere, George himself was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder after growing frustrated with the direction of the Pacers and refusing a contract extension.
The perception of George from Pacers fans immediately did a 180 from that day on, with him immediately becoming Public Enemy Number One in the eyes of Pacers fans and being called a liar and a hypocrite, among others.
In recent years, both sides have gone on to explain more of the story, with George expressing regrets about how his time in Indiana came to an end but also calling out Larry Bird and the Pacers' front office for not retooling the team following his injury and giving him little to nothing to work with during his final two seasons in Indiana.
Most notably, George stated that he was in talks with Anthony Davis to join the Pacers, but ultimately, no deal was made due to Indiana's complete lack of assets at the time.
Pacers fans have softened their approach on George as well, with them seemingly understanding why George neglected to stay, and with the return package of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis working out in the short term and leading to deals that would become Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Andrew Nembhard, Isaiah Jackson, and Ben Sheppard in the long term. This left Indiana in a better position than they would have been in had they kept a disgruntled George.
It started seeming more and more petty to boo the star that kept them in competition with the NBA's elite once upon a time.
George's relationship with Indiana since leaving has been a complicated one. Perhaps one of the most polarizing stars in Indiana sports history, there are families that have differing opinions on the star, with some understanding why he wouldn't stick around on a mediocre team and others still holding a grudge against him for failing to work things out.
In recent months, however, George has been increasingly more open to a Pacers return in the future, and it all starts with one man. Tyrese Haliburton.
Often heralded as the savior of Indiana basketball, Haliburton has been a breath of fresh air for the Pacers as of late, keeping them buzzing in the national media and turning the team's fortunes around both on and off the court, In addition to all of this, Haliburton is also good friends with George, who has had him as a guest on his podcast multiple times.
Fans have noted the clear friendship between the two and the bond they share by talking about their experiences in Indiana, with George playing the first seven years of his career there and experiencing the life of a struggling rookie, a budding star, and a number one option in those years.
While it may be wishful thinking to hope for a 33-year-old George (34 by the offseason) to leave his home state of California and return to Indiana to some fans that still hold a grudge against him, with some still booing him after six years, it would most certainly be a beautiful story.
As said before, George has expressed regrets about how his tenure in Indiana ended, and a lot of fans have changed their stances on him as the years have gone on and more information came out about his departure.
With a new front office led by Kevin Pritchard being more than keen to make changes to Indiana's roster and a proven head coach in Rick Carlisle, along with George's friendship with Haliburton, the dream that many fans have about Paul George's return to Indiana as a player may not be a dream for much longer depending on how these remaining months of the season go.