When it comes to professional basketball, there's no bigger stage than the NBA Finals. These 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks have been quite an undertaking for the number of first-time players, including those like Utah Jazz rookie Keyonte George currently experiencing it from the sidelines.

The NBA brought on four players to act as NBA Finals Correspondents during this Celtics-Mavs Finals. Along with George, the NBA also saw Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., Rockets guard Amen Thompson, Detroit Pistons guard Ausar Thompson, and Golden State Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski.

Keyonte George spoke with ClutchPoints during a break in his Finals Correspondent duties about the

“I just had the opportunity to come here for the NBA as a player correspondent,” George told ClutchPoints. “I get a chance to ask the guys some questions, get a chance to see it up and close. Can't ask for more. I mean this is a phenomenal opportunity to pick guys brains so I'm just here really just enjoying the moment. Honestly, the advice I got was just ask a question that you're really curious about.”

George's first task of the day was to ask Mavs guard Kyrie Irving a question and it turned out to be a great one.

“It seems like you play the game free, day-in and day-out. I want to know the different variables, whether the people you surround yourself with, does it come from your work, does it come from different routines that you do? Just want to kind of get your thoughts on how you are able to go in and play a free 48?”

That question drew a fantastic response from Irving, who said it takes a little bit of everything.

“I think it starts with just being aware of your own goals, what you want to accomplish, your team goals, how you can help accomplish that,” Irving told George. “Also what's going to bring you peace of mind off the court when you leave it.”

Here's Kyrie Irving's full answer:

Keyonte George finished his rookie season averaging 13 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game for the Jazz in 75 appearances this season. As a starter for 44 games, George averaged 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists for the Jazz, who surely have him as their building block for the future.

Keyonte George's Full NBA Finals Interview With ClutchPoints

Tomer Azarly: Some of your questions have been really good. Were any of those personal, like did you really want an answer for those or did someone help you with that?

Keyonte George: The advice I got was just ask a question that you're really curious about. I honestly didn't think the Kyrie question was gonna go crazy like that, but that was just my honest thing. I wanted to really understand what he's thinking in between the lines and for all the guys to be honest. This is a time and place where I'll be able to pick their brains too. But that was just an opportunity to honestly get the answer that I've been thinking about for a long time.

You have the Celtics portion of practice and media, then the Mavs half. What's this NBA Finals environment been like to be around?

You can't ask for anything else. If there are cameras are all around you and your team and all your media wants to talk about your team, then you're doing it right. So this is where we want to be, this is where I want to be. Honestly, it's just being here is really preparing me for when we get to this stage and what goes into the day-in, day-out process.

Does being a part of something like this give you any added motivation, at all?

You know, I'm self-motivated, but just sitting here, being in the NBA and seeing these are the only two teams left playing and the whole league is watching them, as a competitor, as wanting to be great, this is where you need to be. This is where the whole world is watching. Obviously, this motivates me a lot. This motivates our team a lot. So to get to this stage, honestly, leaves me speechless even thinking about it to be honest, so I know when I get here I'm gonna be nothing but focused.

How do you think your rookie year went? You came off the bench, then started for the Jazz, then off the bench again, and ended the year as a starter. What was that first year for you like?

The beginning, obviously, coming off the bench and getting into that role. Once the Jazz gave it an opportunity knowing that all the great guards that's on the team already, I was just gonna have to find where I was gonna fit in. I didn't wanna be that guy who was drafted first round and try to think I'm over anybody. It's time to restart once you get to the league for your first year. These guys are basically established and know what it takes each and every day to be prepared at the highest level. But obviously, playing my way into a bigger role, ended up starting, got the opportunity.

But I think what was good about it is the whole team embracing. It wasn't no competition to be honest. Everybody was leaning on each other, building each other up. So that's, I mean, honestly, as a young guy and getting that type of opportunity to go against top guard each and every night and to have the older guys around you and supporting you, it makes you, not only want to be great, but I said it before, you almost don't want to let them down. It's just because they're going to fight for you, so you got to fight back for them.

What was your favorite memory for your first year with the Jazz? I know you probably had a lot, but…

I mean, you're right, man. All of them were great, but… I mean…

Anyone player you went up against or like that?

Uh, I mean, growing up, obviously, I liked Russell Westbrook. And so, I mean, just to be in between the lines, it was almost like a surreal moment just because grew up a big fan and as anybody that's in the league, they always had somebody that they watched. You get the opportunity to play against them and be in, share the same space. You kind of, you got to kind of take it a moment, so that was pretty cool.

What's the next step in the growth of Keyonte George's career?

Simplifying the game. You see these great guards that's in the playoffs right now, have a simple game, get to the paint, get to your spots, rise up and shoot it. Take the open shot, make the right read. So, I've just been really just trying to simplify my game, knowing when to attack, knowing when to get to the mid-range, knowing, ‘okay, my pick-and-roll read is here now, I'm able to shoot the off-the-dribble threes, stuff like that. Thinking, playing the game within the game almost, setting the table for doing something in the first half that's going to set the table for the second half. So, just really trying to grow mentally in the aspect of the game.


Game 5 of the 2024 NBA Finals is set to continue on Monday night at 8:30PM EST.