George put on a dominant display of offense with 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, including 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, in only 29 minutes of action. 25 of his points came in the first half as the Clippers built a 24-point lead.
The now-seven-time All-Star wasn’t named to the team last year after missing chunks of the first half of the season due to injury. Paul George missed the first 16 games as he was recovering from his offseason shoulder injuries and was later hampered by hamstring strains. He also admitted he didn’t feel like he deserved it last year.
“The fact of the matter is I didn’t deserve to be an All-Star,” George said last January. “I didn’t play enough games and I wasn’t out there enough.”
This year has been a much different story. George has played in 23 of the team’s 33 games while missing a pair due to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. He’s averaging 24.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.2 steals on 51.7 percent shooting from the field, 48.6 percent from beyond the arc, and 87.8 percent from the free-throw line. Being an All-Star this season, however, means something different to the Clippers star.
Paul George was visibly unenthused with the idea of having to go to Atlanta during the NBA’s five-day break in order to participate in the exhibition game.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m not a fan of it,” George said when asked for his thoughts on playing in the game. “And that’s just for personal reasons. I’m just not a fan of it.”
The NBA has put teams through extensive procedures to ensure their health and safety as the world navigates through the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 500,000 Americans as of Tuesday. Both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were forced to miss two Clippers games earlier this season as they stayed back in Los Angeles as they underwent constant testing as well as contact tracing.
“With everything going on, you know, I know the league has done it, and I get we have an amazing league, not discrediting that. But I just don’t think it’s, in the middle of a pandemic, something that needs to be had. Especially, you know, personal reason. I got fined for spending time with a teammate, or having a teammate over, and yet we having this All-Star Game, so, again, I got personal reasons why I disagree with the game, but I’ve been selected and I will be there to play for the fans – or whatever fans that are there.”
"I'm not a fan of it. I don't think, in the middle of a pandemic, it's something that needs to be had. I got fined for spending time with a teammate, for having a teammate over, yet we're having this All-Star Game."
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) February 24, 2021
Paul George’s teammate, Kawhi Leonard, echoed similar sentiments about the game a few weeks ago when he was named a starter in the All-Star Game in Atlanta.
“I mean, it is what it is at this point,” Leonard told members of the media after the Clippers’ 119-115 loss to the Celtics on Friday. “We all know why we’re playing it. It’s money on the line. It’s an opportunity to make more money. But just putting money over health right now, pretty much. Yeah, I mean, we’re playing games now and it’s still a pandemic. We’re doing all these protocols and rules so it doesn’t really surprise me.”
"It is what it is. We all know why we're playing it. It's money on the line. It's opportunity to make more money. Just putting money over health right now, pretty much."
Kawhi Leonard on playing the All-Star Game. pic.twitter.com/cjy7oUTxGV
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) February 6, 2021
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will participate in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game on March 7 on TNT.