LOS ANGELES — Paul George has been motivated and fueled by “all the noise” surrounding him all season long, and earning an All-Star spot is another “milestone” in his bounce-back season, he said.
The LA Clippers guard was named one of the All-Star reserves selected from the Western Conference on Tuesday, joining teammate Kawhi Leonard, who was previously voted in as a starter in the Western Conference pool.
“With all the noise, everything going on, you find motivation through it,” George said of all the criticism he has heard since the Clippers’ collapse in the second round last postseason. “You dig deep, and you’d be amazed what comes out of it. It was honestly just using everything as motivation, fueling all of that toward this year.
“[All-Star] is a good milestone, the start of how my season is going. But definitely [not] where I want it to end. So I got a lot more work to do.”
George, who hit his first five 3-point shots before finishing with 30 points in the Clippers’ 135-116 win over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, will be making his seventh All-Star appearance.
George, though, joined a chorus of NBA stars who have voiced concerns over an All-Star Game being held this year in the middle of a pandemic.
“I am just not a fan of it with everything going on,” George said. “I think it is just smart [to not hold one]. … I get we have an amazing league; I’m not discrediting that. But I don’t think — just in the middle of a pandemic — it is something that needs to be had.”
George also said he was fined this season over a health and safety protocol precaution.
“Especially, [for] personal reasons, I got fined for spending time with a teammate, or having a teammate over, and yet we are having this All-Star Game,” George explained. “So again, I got personal reasons why I disagree with the game [being held].”
George said he did not want to further elaborate on the fine, but he said he will play in the All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta.
George entered Tuesday night averaging 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists to go with a career-high 51.1% shooting rate, including 47.1% from behind the 3-point arc.
The shooting guard wasn’t an All-Star last season after he didn’t play in the Clippers’ first 11 games, as he was eased back into action following offseason shoulder surgeries. Last postseason, George endured a shooting slump in the first round of the playoffs, before going 4-for-16 from the field and scoring 10 points in a Game 7 loss to the Denver Nuggets as the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead in the second round.
George has said he has heard more “chirping” this season from opponents “just living in the past.” He has been motivated to prove his doubters wrong.
“He’s always been an All-Star, you know, in my eyes,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He’s one of the top two-way players in our league; you know he has been for a while.”
“He deserves it. And the kind of year he’s having, you know, this year, it just shows the hard work he put in over the summer to get back to this point.”