Following the Clippers‘ 116-109 win over the Lakers, Charles Barkley put Paul George on the spot, asking him about alleged preferential treatment he and Kawhi received during the 19/20 NBA season. Here’s PG’s response.
Paul George when asked about the reports that he and Kawhi received preferential treatment:— ESPN (@espn) December 23, 2020
“Dudes that put in the work … It’s a reason they get to that level.” pic.twitter.com/wLd1YkvCK1
You can look at it as George’s version of “the end justifies the means.” The only problem is, the means weren’t justified. You can’t talk the talk if you couldn’t deliver when it was time to do so. Because let’s face it, neither PG nor Kawhi played at the level high enough that would justify their exclusively granted autonomy within the Clippers locker room.
All Paul’s response does is imply they did, in fact, have some sort of preferential treatment, which derived from their own misconceptions about knowing what the best thing for them to do was. The upstroke is clear – they were wrong – and the campaign to make amends has already started.
But there’s another implication in how PG elaborated the situation. The “we don’t have that issue right now in this locker room” part, which is an obvious shot fired at the former head coach Doc Rivers. What George is trying to point to is some form of accountability Rivers had for internal disruption within the Clippers locker room, which the 76ers‘ coach explicitly denies.
A lot of it is true. There was special treatment, but what people don’t understand is I was the guy who didn’t like it and was fighting it.Doc Rivers, ESPN
I don’t know about you, but Doc doesn’t strike me as the “special treatment” type of guy. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and the rest of the ’08 Boston Celtics can testify to that. He’s more on the lines of that old school approach, where no individual transcends the collective and everyone is held to the same level of accountability. Having said that, all the extra perks Leonard and George seemed to have been self-assigned by two stars themselves, and what Rivers said next solidifies that argument.
This is a well known dynamic in the NBA. The name of the game is winning championships, and superstar players set the rules. They want to win, but more importantly, they want to win on their own terms. How they’re perceived for it solely depends on the outcome of their run at the title. Had the Clippers met the expectations, nobody would’ve been talking about Kawhi and PG having personal security guards, trainers, and power over the team’s practice schedule. But they didn’t; hence, it’s a topic of discussion months later.
Just don’t blame Doc for it. Kawhi’s history with the Spurs and all the levels of Paul George’s delusion are enough for me to take Rivers’ side on this. At this point, they’re looking for someone to blame, and putting it on the guy out of the building seems like the logical escape route. Just don’t fall for it. This one was on the players.