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.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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.
Forget the drab atmosphere of last season’s fanless NBA games, we could have starless ones in the next. Expect a disappointing start to the regular season if wounded All-Stars, players suffering from a bubble hangover, and LeBron James all take extended leave.
When Kawhi Leonard texted Nick Nurse, “I’m going home” back in late 2019 the Los Angeles Clippers had just claimed victory in one of the most studied and intensely reported giant NBA free-agent chases in some time.