Clippers' Paul George 'Absolutely' Motivated by Criticism of Bubble Play

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) chases a loose ball after knocking it away from Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
Ralph Freso/Associated Press

Paul George said he has "absolutely" been motivated by critics of his play following the Los Angeles Clippers' collapse in the 2020 NBA playoffs. 

"It's the reason I came into this year focused. I heard all the noise, and I use all that noise for motivation," George told reporters after Sunday's 112-107 win over the Phoenix Suns.

George took the brunt of the criticism for the Clippers blowing a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals—perhaps deservedly so. He averaged 21.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the series against Denver and shot just 4-of-16 in the deciding Game 7.

"I had a tough year last year," George said in his on-court interview after the game. "People think it's sweet, man, people think it's sweet because I was down. I didn't hear none of this my 10 years in the league but last year, people living on that last year. And I got to answer that. And I am ready to compete. I'm back."

George was also the subject of plenty criticism after Damian Lillard knocked down a shot in his face to send the Oklahoma City Thunder home in the 2019 playoffs, and then again after George forced a trade to the Clippers a year after re-signing in Oklahoma City.

Perhaps the bubble was the first time George noticed the criticism, but the social media savages of NBA Twitter have been rampaging in his mentions for the better part of two years (if not longer). Handing yourself the nickname Playoff P and then falling short in said playoffs tends to rile up the critics.

The criticism coming from fellow players is a little more fresh, and opponents seem emboldened to get under the Clippers' skin after their playoff collapse.

"I don't talk, I play my game," George said. "For whatever reason, it's dudes talking. Like, never heard people talking [before], and it's never been directed towards me but for some reason it's a lot of mouth. And it's fine. I got to play up to that."

George has been the Clippers' best player in their 5-2 start, averaging 25.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists while posting a 51/49/92 shooting line.