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HomeFan EngagementPaul George Talks Coaching, Notion Across the NBA, Discovering His Voice

Paul George Talks Coaching, Notion Across the NBA, Discovering His Voice

How a lot have you learnt about Paul George? Like, actually know?

The query is a rhetorical one. Many individuals—the media, informal basketball followers, diehard Pacers/Thunder/Clippers followers—know of him as simply an NBA celebrity.

He’s an eight-time All-Star, received Most Improved in 2013 and has made All-NBA, All-Defensive and All-Rookie Groups all through his 13 years within the League to this point. Lengthy earlier than that, he was recognized for being the best draft choose in Fresno State historical past when he was chosen within the first spherical again in 2010. Then, in 2014, he determined to change issues up by altering his jersey quantity from No. 24 to No. 13, which additionally impressed a brand new nickname: PG-13. He purchased all his outdated jerseys and donated them to his highschool. 

“The entire thing behind PG-13 is simply coming into my very own,” he informed Vigilant Sports activities again then. “I really feel like I’m at that stage the place I’m able to embrace all the things that comes with being one of many younger stars on this League. Everybody is aware of PG-13 is expounded to tv, so the entire thing is having the ability to benefit from the present and being enjoyable to observe.”

In Indiana, PG turned heads. By his third season, he’d emerged because the Pacers’ go-to possibility, and helped make them the Japanese Convention Finals in back-to-back seasons from 2012-14. After seven years in Indy and a number of events the place he battled by means of harm—together with a compound fracture in his leg, which he suffered in the course of the offseason in 2014 that precipitated him to overlook a majority of the upcoming common season—he was traded to the OKC Thunder in 2017. He tried to redefine himself once more, this time as “Playoff P,” a nickname which he gave himself that season, proper earlier than the Thunder performed the Jazz within the first spherical. When requested about guarding then-rookie Donovan Mitchell, he clarified to ESPN that “Playoff P” is “a enjoyable man to observe. It’s an out-of-body individual the place I simply lock in and put myself in a distinct zone.” 

Then, in 2020, Sport 7 towards the Nuggets occurred. Playoff P solely scored 10 factors on 25 % taking pictures and went scoreless within the fourth. The web ruthlessly determined “Pandemic P” was a extra becoming title for the star’s efficiency on the time. Since then, George has missed intensive time because of harm, together with the tip of the 2022-23 common season due to a knee harm.

However that was then, and that is now. At 33 years outdated, George has seen the highs and the lows of being an expert athlete—the accidents, the losses and the wins. Whereas the opinions of others can assist shift and form narratives, what issues most is how athletes view themselves. And that’s what we went out to California in late-August to search out out: Who precisely is Paul George? 

“I believe I’m a reasonably humorous individual, however I’m additionally a really introverted individual,” George tells us. “I sort of preserve to myself and I believe that’s why folks don’t, or haven’t discovered a lot about me by means of my time by means of the NBA. However I’m truly a reasonably enjoyable, outgoing individual. Like to snort, like to joke. And, I imply, I’m unsure if that may shock many individuals however for the folks that don’t actually know me, it may be stunning. At the least that’s what it appears after we learn feedback [saying], He’s truly humorous. He’s truly a great dude. So, I believe the extra I simply present [my] persona and present who I’m, [the] extra folks have simply gravitated towards it.”

Paul George Covers SLAM 246. Get your copy now.

The person himself is sitting in a well-lit lounge on the Proactive Sports activities Efficiency, sporting his L.A. Clippers uniform. He was simply coaching and understanding within the weight room moments prior—the lounge that we’re in proper now could be on the second flooring and appears out onto the coaching facility and court docket. Down beneath, we’ve acquired a whole picture shoot arrange, which is the place we’ll shoot George for his third SLAM cowl. 

However first, interview time. Initially, PG’s demeanor is extra low-key because the cameras begin rolling. He’s not overly energetic or giving monotone solutions, with “truthfully” being one of many first phrases he makes use of when requested how his summer time has been going. It’s a great signal that, hopefully, he’ll preserve it actual for the remainder of the dialog. In spite of everything, he’s achieved numerous interviews and journal covers, together with with us, earlier than, and has been requested loads of questions on his profession, attending to that championship-level, taking part in alongside Kawhi Leonard…

For those who hear—actually, truly hear—to what he has to say, you’ll begin to perceive that there’s much more to Paul George. He’s introverted, sure, however he has additionally been discovering one other facet of himself. He’s artistic, and fairly introspective and sincere: whereas the following technology of standouts—Brandon Miller, Kiyan Anthony—contemplate him their GOAT, his personal measurement of success comes down to at least one tangible factor: profitable a championship.

When he talked about on his Twitch livestream just lately that he totally intends to be on his “bully shit” this upcoming season, that wasn’t a risk. It was a promise.

Right here, Paul George elaborates extra on what we will anticipate from him this season, his strategy to his offseason coaching and the way he’s found his voice—and himself—on the court docket, within the podcast studio and in all places in between.

SLAM: How are you doing? How has the summer time been and what have you ever been as much as apart from coaching?

PAUL GEORGE: Good. Actually, [it’s] summertime, being a father, it’s principally household time. When the season’s achieved, youngsters are out of college. [It’s a] nice alternative to sort of simply be at residence with the household, be with my spouse, my youngsters. However that’s about it. Aside from that I’m coaching and, you understand, I’m taking my ordinary summer time journeys to Europe and trip. However outdoors of that, [I’m] placing one foot ahead and preparing for the following season.

SLAM: The place in Europe did you go to?

PG: I used to be out in Serbia, the place my spouse is from. I used to be in Montenegro and Greece.

SLAM: What’s it wish to be residence and in a position to totally give attention to the fam? Are you able to describe the way you go about transitioning from the season into summer time?

PG: It’s nice having the youngsters residence full-time, retaining them energetic [and] having the ability to take them to their camps, take them to their practices, their hobbies. It’s simply nice to be just a little bit extra hands-on and you actually discover what their pursuits are when you’re with them for longer durations. 

So it’s been enjoyable—it’s been enjoyable for the reason that season has been achieved to rekindle that. You get so riled up and caught up with how the season goes that you simply are likely to lose out on stuff, simply being on the highway and touring a lot. In order that’s actually the nice half about having these summers.

SLAM: You’ve talked about they’re fairly artistic—have been you a similar means as a child  rising up?

PG: Yeah, I used to be. I believe that’s why the bond between my oldest and myself is so sturdy, as a result of I used to be the identical means. My creativeness was very sturdy. I can draw, create, colour—you identify it. If I can consider it, I may draw it. So I used to be fairly good. I wasn’t the best at drawing, not a portraits individual, however I may draw fairly good as a child. I see loads of me [in] her.

SLAM: That’s fireplace. By way of your offseason exercises and coaching, did you begin stepping into it instantly after the season ended? 

PG: I took, like, two weeks off simply because I used to be rehabbing. When the season ended, [I had] a nasty leg harm. And when the season was over, there was no level clearly for me to be in the very best form attainable. So I took two weeks off to sort of get away from basketball, get away from the power, get away from coaching. I assumed that simply helped me strategy once I went again to coaching rather a lot higher. It helped my psychological, it helped my focus and that’s in regards to the norm for me at this level in my profession—take about two weeks away, go journey, simply get out, get away after which I’ll come again and go hit it exhausting once more.

SLAM: Has that been your strategy prior to now? To take time away? 

PG: Yeah, I’d say most likely the final couple years. Earlier than then I used to, when the season was achieved, I [would] be proper again within the health club the following day. However now as I’ve gotten older, I sort of take pleasure in splitting the 2—being in season-mode after which being in offseason-mode. The youthful me didn’t have a household or youngsters, so the older me sort of is aware of to separate that, take pleasure in household time and get after it once I’m prepared.

SLAM: Trying again, how would you describe your youthful self, particularly if you first got here into the League.

PG: My youthful self was simply hungry. He was passionate, he had simply the warrior mentality. And fearless. I nonetheless have a few of these qualities, nevertheless it’s positively stronger as a youngin’ coming into the League. Now I’d say my older self is just a little bit extra targeted, realizing what I need and the best way to strategy it, the best way to get there. Now it’s simply [about] attempting to remain wholesome. That’s the most important key. 

However yeah, that’s the separation between myself—the place I’m at now and the youthful me. I simply had that zeal to wish to be the very best and destroy any and all the things in entrance of me.

SLAM: What have you ever been specializing in particularly this offseason in your coaching? What are your objectives going into subsequent season?

PG: Simply specializing in the mentality. For me, it’s simply the mentality. I work extraordinarily exhausting on bettering and getting higher, however for me, it’s simply the mentality—going again to having that 22, 23-year-old mentality at 33 of, each time I’m on the ground, I’m there to dominate and simply be the very best participant on the ground always. In order that’s the mentality I’m going into it [with]. That’s how I’m approaching this summer time. On the finish of the day, I really like the place I’ll end as a result of if I’ve that mentality, I do know I’m giving it all the things I’ve, and I can stay with these outcomes.

SLAM: Is that what you meant if you stated on that Twitch livestream that you simply’re going to be in your “bully shit” this season?

PG: 100%. 100%. That’s precisely what I meant. I gotta maintain myself accountable to that… Each evening I’m on the ground, I’m there to dominate. Whether or not it’s [being] extra bodily, or going proper at whoever I gotta go at, you’re gonna really feel me. I’m having that strategy of each time I’m on the ground, I’m there to dominate and destroy you.

SLAM: If you stated that in your livestream, what pushed you to that time? Did you are feeling prefer it was one thing that wanted to be stated? Was that one thing that was going by means of your head already?

PG: Yeah, I imply, it was simply loads of pointless speak going across the League of, you understand, guys feeling themselves and directing feedback towards me that haven’t achieved something as effectively. , that is the final couple years of my profession, so it’s all about legacy for me as effectively. And that’s simply my strategy—I acquired to complete sturdy and return to loving the sport and loving to dominate. And once more, that’s simply how I acquired to strategy it. [If] I come up quick, that’s on me. However that’s how I gotta strategy it.

SLAM: You used the phrases “return to loving the sport and loving to dominate.” Was there a time if you didn’t essentially really feel that means?

PG: Simply by means of accidents, you doubt your self. At instances, you doubt what you’re in a position to do. However at this level—I had a fluke harm to finish the remainder of my season final yr—however up till that time, I used to be beginning to get stronger, I used to be beginning to really feel higher, issues that I used to be having midseason have been beginning to go away. And that was the very best I used to be feeling. And so, I used to be coming into my stride, able to get again into that. However for a stretch, I didn’t really feel [like] myself simply because accidents and stuff was aching and popping up. However I really feel like I’ve been beginning to tackle that each summer time, little by little, to the place I’m in an amazing place proper now.

SLAM: What does Paul George being on his “bully shit” appear like?

PG: Actually [laughs]…I can’t inform you what that appears like. I’ve been a reasonably constant scorer, been a high-level participant for a few years. However for me, it’s simply attending to a stage of consistency. And, once more, not backing down and destroying no matter I’ve to [to] get to the place I must get to. So I believe it’ll be noticeable by the best way I play this yr.

SLAM: Do you are feeling like there was a time or I assume a defining second throughout your profession the place you actually felt such as you have been actually in your “bully shit”? 

PG: I had that strategy of guarding everybody powerful, of attempting to be the primary possibility and rating on the very best participant each evening whereas shutting the very best participant down each evening. , I simply had a imply mentality once I was youthful. And that was simply how I approached the sport. I believe I fell away just a little bit from that mentality. And so once more, all of it’s simply attempting to be again, centered [and] to the place I used to be once I got here into this League.

SLAM: If you have been referring to guys within the League, or normally, having issues to say about you, what was working by means of your head? 

PG: I imply, everyone has their proper to say what they wish to say. Everybody at this time limit has an opinion. That doesn’t hassle me, however the best way you go about it, and the best way you strategy it, I’m gonna need to have one thing to say about the best way issues are dealt with sooner or later. And that’s simply the place it’s gotten, so, you understand, it’s nearly having—I don’t go off of what I’ve achieved, who I’ve been within the League. To me, I view it as: if I’ve received or if I haven’t received. And I haven’t received. Folks inform me on a regular basis, Don’t doubt your self, don’t this, don’t that. I don’t. I do know what I’ve achieved. I do know what I’ve achieved on this League. I do know whose ass I’ve busted on this League, who I’ve put what numbers on on this League. That don’t imply nothing if I haven’t received a championship. Yeah, it’d be an amazing résumé when it’s all stated and achieved. That’s cool. However for me, I measure myself within the success I’ve had within the League—if I get a championship, that’s what it’s all about. So, yeah, the common stats are cool and all, however I acquired an even bigger purpose of profitable [and] establishing myself as a champion.  

SLAM: Have you ever at all times had that commonplace of success? 

PG: Yeah, I imply, coming into the League, early on, the primary couple of years [it was about] establishing myself and simply getting higher and desirous to be an All-Star, desirous to be on that celebrity stage, wanting to hold a staff and desirous to be the very best defender on the ground. That was sort of [my] particular person objectives. However when you make it to that time, take it a step additional, now that has to imply one thing. Being the very best participant, being the very best defender, being on a great staff—like that every one has to begin to equate to one thing. Now I’m at some extent the place yearly I’m coaching, and that’s the purpose—to get a championship. And so if I come up quick, like, nothing else issues that yr. At this level, I failed the yr, I failed the season, if I didn’t win a championship. 

SLAM: Let’s get into your podcast. To begin, do you are feeling like this is among the first instances you’ve actually been outspoken when it comes to sharing your personal opinion, speaking to different athletes and analysts? 

PG: Yeah, I believe so. As a result of, you understand, for the longest [time], as a younger man, you wish to say the best stuff, you wish to defend the group, you wish to defend teammates, you wish to defend your self, picture, model, all of that great things, proper? However you lose sight of like, Am I actually answering this the best way I wish to reply it? Am I actually getting off the thought or the concept that I actually wish to say? And generally after interviews, I’m like, you understand, Fuck, I ought to have stated what I actually wished to say. Or, I ought to have informed them what actually occurred or the way it actually went. Or, how I actually felt.  Now, with my podcast, I can do this. And I believe that’s simply the wonder in it. 

SLAM: On that word, what’s it like doing the interviewing after having been interviewed so many instances? Do you are feeling like you’ve gotten a distinct perspective of what goes into it? 

PG: Yeah, what I discovered doing it’s [that it’s] very therapeutic, as a result of loads of tales that I’ve informed, or loads of tales that we’ve talked about, have been issues I held on to and haven’t actually [gotten] that out. Whether or not it’s been good moments, unhealthy moments, enjoyable instances, unhealthy instances, it’s simply been therapeutic to precise sure tales. For instance, the dialog with DeMar [DeRozan] that we had about taking part in one another in highschool, I’ve at all times felt how I felt main as much as that second taking part in him in highschool, nevertheless it was nice to listen to how he felt main as much as that second taking part in me in highschool. So conversations like that have been nice to sort of replicate again on and share that second and share that story with any individual that I’m fairly good associates with, however we’ve by no means talked about that. And so it was simply nice to return [down] reminiscence lane and choose up on issues that we’ve been by means of and experiences. As a result of in any other case, you maintain on to sure stuff and [are] weirded out by the best way to share or replicate on some issues.

SLAM: What’s the most important factor you’ve discovered about your self, now that you simply’ve gotten into podcasting? 

PG: That I’m not simply good at basketball. [laughs]. Nah, I imply, I knew no matter I put my time into I could be profitable in. That’s what sort of individual I’m: if I lock in on one thing, I work extraordinarily exhausting to be good at it. And being within the podcast house is one other notch to reassure that. It’s simply been enjoyable. It’s truthfully been enjoyable. I by no means in one million years would have thought that I’d be interviewing different gamers, speaking about tales, being in entrance of a digicam as a lot as I’m, particularly at this level in my profession. So, you understand, it’s simply been an amazing curler coaster. And I’m simply having fun with the experience at this level.

SLAM: Did you at all times really feel that means—that you simply’re actually solely considered as Paul George the basketball participant?

PG: Not essentially, however I do assume folks didn’t know a lot about me. I felt I used to be—everybody thought a sure means, primarily based off of moments I’ve had in basketball, moments on the court docket, off the court docket. And that’s the one factor that they’ll pinpoint on me. However truly watching me in a podcast setting, getting to speak, attending to snort, making jokes. I believe folks see me in a distinct mild. And that’s what I respect, that they’ll separate [it, like], Oh he’s completely completely different. I assumed he was means completely different. I had this angle of him, [but] he’s truly a cool dude. He’s truly humorous. He’s truly this, that. Which I’m. I’m simply as regular as anyone else. 

There’s positively an appreciation there for followers for permitting [themselves] to re-introduce themselves to who Paul George is.


Deyscha “Sway” Smith is an Affiliate Editor at SLAM. Observe her on Instagram/X, @deyschasmith and Tik Tok @deyscha.

Portraits by Atiba Jefferson. Motion pictures through Getty Photographs.



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