The definition of the word "superstar" is often a point of controversy in NBA circles.
Is it a designation reserved solely for about five people throughout the league, those who draw the most attention both on and off the court? Is it applicable to anyone who has achieved status as a household name and constantly features as a highlight-producer on SportsCenter?
Are the qualifications even less stringent than that?
Paul George has never explicitly stated how he feels about the definition, but he proved that he's willing to throw the word around in willy-nilly fashion after bestowing the "superstar" label upon Bradley Beal following the Indiana Pacers' Game 1 loss to the Washington Wizards.
"Bradley Beal’s a superstar in this league,” George claimed after the 102-96 defeat, via Mike Wise of The Washington Post. “He’s on the rise.”
First, it's worth noting that those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Kevin Durant, for example, is quite clearly a superstar but is also rising up the ranks of the NBA and building upon his previous performances every year.
But Beal is not a superstar. Not yet, at least.
The 20-year-old shooting guard is still in the midst of his first foray into the postseason, and he left Game 1 averaging 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists per contest. And granted, he had a fantastic performance during the opening salvo of the clash between Washington and Indiana.
"A kid does not become the first NBA player in more than a decade to finish with 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals in a playoff game," writes Wise. "A kid doesn’t become the first person in league annals to have three playoff games with at least 25 points before their 21st birthday."
But doing things first has never been the end-all, be-all criteria for superstardom. Nor is one game—or one postseason, for that matter—enough to gain eligibility for such an exclusive club, no matter how stellar it may be.
Superstardom is something bestowed upon a player over the course of time, a reward for consistent domination and league-wide respect, both from opponents and fans alike. It's not something to be trifled with, especially when the player in question took a firm backseat to his point guard throughout the vast majority of his sophomore year.
Beal might get there.
In fact, he should get there, as his second go-round in the Association has been undeniably impressive. If he continues dominating throughout this series, he'll begin the process of lending credibility to the claim of a certain All-Star from Indiana. But he'll still have to follow that up with a regular season to remember in 2014-15.
Let's avoid jumping the gun here, as the list of players granted premature superstardom before proving they don't belong in that class is a lengthy one.
George of all people should know that.
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