Danny Granger's recommendation helped lead the Pacers to Paul George

USA TODAY Sports

A phone call by Granger to former Pacers president Larry Bird made all the difference in Indiana's selection of George, but it almost didn't happen.

Former Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird had interest in a relatively-unknown draft prospect out of Fresno State. Paul George had been working out with Pacers small forward Danny Granger and the two shared agent Aaron Mintz, but leading into the draft, Bird was still unsure of George's potential.

So to learn more, as Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins writes in a recent issue of the magazine, Bird attempted to get in touch with Granger to ask him about his workout partner.

On the eve before the draft, Bird still hadn't gotten a call back. Mintz, hoping to get his younger client drafted, called Granger to press him on the issue. He told Granger to put his phone on mute, and Mintz dialed up George with Granger listening in silently, Jenkins writes.

Mintz asked George, "Where do you want to go in the draft tomorrow?"

"Indiana," George replied.

"Why?" Mintz asked.

"I think I can learn so much from Danny."

Mintz hung up on George and asked Granger, "Can you call Bird now?"

Against his self-interest, Granger gave a glowing endorsement, and until this season George was little more than his tenacious sidekick.

Granger only appeared in five games during the 2012-13 season because of knee issues, but in his place George developed from the Pacers' fourth-highest scorer to its first en route to an All-Star appearance and the NBA's Most Improved Player Award in just his third season. Now, George finds himself in the midst of a playoff run and seemingly the Kryptonite to LeBron James, whose Miami Heat is deadlocked with Indiana in the conference finals.

Granger presented the Most Improved Player Award to George this season. For the honor, George can probably thank Granger for one phone call.

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