There is no other fitting way than to have Paul George grace the Nike Rise event, which goes by the slogan “The ability to rise is in all of us.”
George possesses one of the most compelling rise stories — from being an underdog athlete to overcoming injuries — which makes him a great model for the promotion of the Rise series in the Philippines.
Not long ago, when the United States national basketball team was conducting a Blue vs White scrimmage in Las Vegas in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, George contested a lay-up by James Harden and fell awkwardly, planting his right foot against the stanchion which caused his right leg to break in a horrific way.
George missed almost the entire 2014-15 NBA Season for the Indiana Pacers, just a year removed from becoming an all-star and an all-NBA level talent.
But George did not let the injury hinder his progress, and used it as motivation to succeed and let go of adversity. The all-star eventually returned to action in the same season, and is now part of a promotional tour which also had stops in China.
The Indiana Pacer was overwhelmed by the support shown by Filipinos, particularly those who attended the event at the Tenement in Taguig City.
“The energy I felt walking to the court, I knew I was in for something crazy,” George said at the House of Rise in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.
The ambassador also had a first-hand glimpse of the 24 players selected for the Nike Rise reality series, and noted similarities in how they embrace hoops.
“They love the game like I love the game. I have seen a lot of personality and flair. They have the traits. The handle is crazy,” he said.
“They got great passion for the game, something I relate to. They are very coachable.”
Before leaving the country, George wants aspiring Filipino ballers that there is no limit, and he wishes his experiences can also help them push themselves to a higher level.
“For some of the kids here lacking in confidence I just want them to know they are going to make mistakes. It is part of life. It is how you push through it and persevere. That is how you make good players great players. That’s something I learned.”