It might be time for Paul George to point the finger at himself rather than everyone else.
The Clippers forward recently criticized former Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers, now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, during an appearance on Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s “All The Smoke” video podcast. George asserted that Rivers misused the six-time All-Star during his first season with the Clippers, who brought him to Los Angeles to form a dynamic duo with Kawhi Leonard.
“Doc was trying to play me as a Ray Allen or a JJ Redick, all (pin-down screens),” George said. “I can do it, but that ain’t my game. I need some flow, I need some mixes of some pick-and-roll, and post up. … That last season was hard.”
Could Rivers have found better ways to utilize George’s talents last season, which ended in a second-round playoff exit for the Clippers? Sure. However, that doesn’t mean George’s excuse was bulletproof.
As pointed out by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, George actually did more pick-and-rolls last season than in any previous campaign during his career.
Moreover, the timing of George’s criticism of Rivers couldn’t have been worse. The Athletic on Wednesday published a lengthy store detailing the preferential treatment George and Leonard received last season — including control over practice schedule — as well as how those perks fostered discontent within the Clippers locker room.
Here are two noteworthy excerpts from The Athletic’s story:
— Leonard and George typically didn’t speak to the media until at least 45 minutes after games concluded, under the guise of postgame treatment or workouts. This usually resulted in their teammates speaking with the media first, and for longer, essentially becoming the public voices of the team.
— Teammates also believed that Leonard and George were able to pick and choose when they played. Not only did they sit out games entirely, but also at times they accepted or declined playing time in the moment.
Sorry, but when you’re afforded that level of special treatment by your head coach, your complaints about how he deploys you, a supremely talented basketball player in a league where talent is everything, ring hollow. We won’t even get into salaries.
Also worth noting are George’s playoff shortcomings, which very much have become a thing. They have followed him from Indiana to Oklahoma City to Los Angeles. Yes, his actual playoff statistics are well above average, but anyone who was watched George play during the postseason knows he has a penchant for coming up small in the biggest moments.
George is one of the NBA’s great players, and by all indications is a good guy. At 30 years old, he likely has a long, successful career ahead of himself.
But the excuse-making and finger-pointing from a player on the verge of losing the benefit of the doubt need to stop.