You know those “If you like this, you will like that” lists on Amazon?
If you said you like Paul George then Danny Granger would probably be on the top of the recommended list. And if you talk to Paul George, he will probably be the first to submit a testimonial about the former Indiana Pacer All-Star. Why? Because Granger was PG13’s mentor and big brother on the team until the team traded him to Philly for Evan Turner.
Before the trade and the injuries that only allowed him to play a total of 31 games in his final two seasons with the Pacers, Granger was a rising star who became the first player in NBA history to improve his scoring by five points in his first four seasons. In his fourth season, he became an All-Star, won the Most Improved Player Award and became an elite Fantasy player in roto leagues (I traded for him!).
Enough of the positive accomplishments, the main reason for this post was to revisit some memorable moments involving a guy Paul George is used to battling in the playoffs: LeBron James. And no time had more memorable moments between them than the 2012 NBA Playoffs series between the Pacers and Heat. Granger, who labeled the Heat as “the Yankees of the NBA,” had multiple heated encounters with James during the series…
And even one with Dwyane Wade…
After the game, here’s what Wade had to say about Granger’s tough guy act.
“I’m all for standing up for your guys, but certain things you just can’t keep doing,” Wade said. “My message to Granger was that you just can’t keep running up into people’s faces for altercations. We’re not fighting on this basketball court, so let’s not act like we’re going to fight. We can be physical and do all that, but certain things got to stop. Are you out here to play basketball or are you out here to be a tough guy?”
LeBron felt the same but was a little more annoyed with Granger.
“Whatever he’s trying, it is not working.” LeBron said before Game 5. “He’s said he’s not scared of LeBron, I want to let him know. I guess he’s doing it for his own psyche. It’s stupid.
“Nobody is fighting on the basketball court. C’mon. I’m not going to fight because I mean too much to our team and I can’t afford to be suspended for a game or do something stupid to get thrown out of a playoff game.”
Game 5 turned out to be another physical and heated game with multiple flagrant fouls — Psycho T on Wade and Udonis Haslem on Hansbrough in retaliation — and an injury to Granger. The injury was caused when LeBron showed Granger his best Bruce Bowen impersonation, which resulted in a sprained ankle.
Granger was able to suit up for Game 6 and ended up going down just like the Celtics and Thunder that season.
Besides this series, the two actually had a few other memorable highlights, including the time Granger dunked on LeBron (confiscate that Nike!) in 2008.
Then there’s the time Granger had the opportunity to create a play of the year nominee but he couldn’t get the shot to drop after dropping LeBron.
But the coldest thing that happened between the two was during Granger’s last season. In 2014, Granger joined LeBron and the “NBA Yankees” and then traded in the middle of the season to the Phoenix Suns. The Cavs went on to compete in the NBA Finals but ended up losing to the Warriors, which probably made Granger feel a little better.
So what’s Granger up to these days? He’s an analyst at CBS Sports, where he gets to talk about things like…LeBron’s legacy.