George talked a lot of talk but failed to back it up throughout the entirety of LA’s postseason run. It culminated in the win or go home game against the Nuggets when the Clippers’ star player had a 10-point outing, capping it off with a corner three that hit the side of the backboard. That moment alone painted the perfect picture of PG’s playoff run, as he was never able to live up to the hype of being the second star next to Kawhi Leonard. But he kept talking like the second star, and it rubbed his teammates the wrong way.
Montrezl Harrell was the first to react, as he and George got into a heated verbal exchange during a timeout in Game 2. #13 had two turnovers in less than a minute and got called out by Harrell for lack of focus. George pushed back against it, saying that the turnover was on Harrell.
“Harrell responded with something along the lines of, ‘You’re always right. Nobody can tell you nothing,‘ and expletives were uttered from both players, sources said. George eventually toned down his rhetoric, but a heated Harrell wasn’t having it.”Chris Haynes, Yahoo Sports
According to Shams Charania, Trez wasn’t the only one. Multiple teammates had verbal spats with George throughout the postseason, citing in their exchanges a lack of accountability from him. His lethargic demeanor, combined with his poor performance on the floor, had PG losing his credibility as the vocal leader of the group. So when Paul tried speaking up following a game 7 loss to the Nuggets, no one was paying attention.
“In the postgame locker room Tuesday night, George was preaching to teammates to remain committed, for all the players to return to the team this offseason and stay ready to make another run. It was met by some eye rolls and bewilderment.”Shams Charania, The Athletic
There’s a fine line between being a leader and being a nuisance. Where do you side is solely dependent on how you’re performing and the way PG was performing, he was obviously the embodiment of nuisance. It’s the battle between talking the talk and walking the walk, and the impression that the discrepancy between the two leaves.
Where there is no discrepancy, there are great leaders. LeBron James is one. Michael Jordan was also one. Magic Johnson is one. All these guys have credentials to back their words up. Paul George doesn’t. Now, it’s only a part of the problem with the Clippers, but it’s something that has to be addressed.
Kawhi Leonard is the best guy to do it. He’s their best player – he should be their leader. Now, being the loudest voice is off the table with Kawhi. But he can still lead by example. In the NBA, that might be the best way to do it.