The majority of Atlanta fans will look at the 2019-20 season as a positive, despite the horrid win/loss record. The Hawks have done a terrific job at building a squad for the future, and this was shown during the past season.
Paul George finished Game 4 of the first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks with nine points on 3-14 shooting and immediately continued his ritual of ridiculous post-game media answers, exclaiming the Mavs’ defenders weren’t even good but clearly good enough to stop him.
This combined with his Game 3 post-game interview, when he was undertaking the interview with an ice pack taped around his shoulder.
Now, am I denying the fact he may have been having shoulder pain? Of course not.
But is it a coincidence that in the game he scored 14 and made a plethora of defensive blunders he wanted the public to see his injury? Funnily he didn’t need the ice pack after scoring 27 and going 1-0 up after Game 1…
And these two occurrences encapsulate the history of Paul George in a nutshell: a top-ten talent combined with a low-level championship starter mentality.
My opinion doesn’t arise from thin air. A glance of George’s performances in big playoff games in his history helps my case.
In Game 7 of the eastern conference finals in 2013 he put up a stat line of 7-7-7 on 22 per cent field goals.
In 2015 he was injured.
In 2016, he lost in seven to the Raptors and although he scored 28 points, George finished the game with 2-8 shooting, turned the ball over at the end and missed a game-tying shot at the end. Alongside that, during the post-game interview, he exclaimed he was tired and also “not superman”.
In 2017, he was swept by the Cavaliers and in the Game 4 elimination game he scored 15 points on 5-21 shooting.
In 2018, he lost in six to a Utah Jazz team led by rookie Donovan Mitchell. In Game 6 he played 45 minutes, scoring five points on 2-16 shooting with three rebounds.
Last season he proceeded to be waved goodbye by Damian Lillard in five games. During the post-game press conference, when asked about Damien Lillard’s season-ending dagger, George’s response was: “I don’t care what anybody says, that was a bad shot”.
Now, I am fully aware there are a hell of a lot of brilliant George performances mixed in there, but for those who care to make the argument for George as a superstar, I have to disagree.
Not only because of his performances in the critical moments, but his history of off-court comments and lack of leadership demonstrated that George is not equipped with the necessary tools to be a complete second option on a championship team.
I hope George proves me wrong and goes on to lead the Clippers to their first NBA championship. But if the Clippers fall short in a close series along the way, I recommend tuning into George’s post-game interview because he might want to make sure you’re aware of the reason why he played poorly.