Paul George opens up on his 2020 “Bubble” struggles

Paul George, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Paul George, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

There were times during the 2020 NBA postseason when Paul George simply didn’t look like his normal self. Yet, with COVID-19 wrapping its disease-ridden hands around the entire world, the NBA community was forced to adjust.

Beginning on March 11th, 2020, the NBA would shut its doors as they attempted to figure out their next move. After much thought, it was decided that many of the regular season games would essentially be wiped away while the focus would then shift to the playoffs.

The postseason would then take place in a fanless atmosphere in Orlando called “The Bubble”. For the most part, although players weren’t initially ecstatic over their new setup, they were given no other choice. The LA Clippers, amongst many teams, appeared to thrive in their new atmosphere. However, Paul George struggled mightily to adjust to life in the bubble.

Paul George simply couldn’t find his groove in 2020, no matter how hard he tried

In totality, George has always come up big in the postseason. Nonetheless, LA’s second in command on the offensive end was far from himself. The multiple-time All-Star would go on to average 20.2 points, his lowest since the 2013 NBA Playoffs. His field goal percentage of 39.8%, was the second lowest of his postseason career.

Candidly, George has openly admitted that being confined in the NBA’s bubble was disastrous for his mental health. Up until now, however, George hasn’t exactly revealed some of the deeper rooted issues he suffered from. That is, until now.

“A lot of it was just weighing on me,” said George during an interview with his current teammate, Serge Ibaka. “For one, I wasn’t sleeping. I don’t know what it was. I probably went a good week and a half, two weeks of zero sleep, like zero sleep – no lie. I would lay in bed and my mind would just be racing, just racing, just racing.”

As George continued his sleepless nights, he did what he could to rectify the problem but to no avail.

“I tried everything. I tried using apps, I tried therapy, I tried sleeping gummies.”

With each of George’s attempts to find his panacea failing, his tenuous performances on the court only intensified. During one particularly brutal three-game stretch, George would go on to average just 11.3 points per game. George’s lowest moment, however, came in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Denver Nuggets.

With their season on the line, George nailed just four of his 16 shots, scoring 10 total points as the Clippers were blown off the floor. Throughout it all, George was simply looking for a reprieve to put his mind at ease. Nevertheless, during his quietest moments, George never found peace. Instead, he was bombarded with chastisement while becoming the bud of countless jokes.

“I wasn’t sleeping,” continued George. “So you put that on top of having a bad game and ain’t nothing else to do there. You’re surrounded by basketball, there’s no escape, there’s no outlets. We’re stuck in our rooms in a hotel. All we got is our phones. You get on social media – oh it’s a meme here, it’s a joke there. So you mix all of that on top of not sleeping and I didn’t know what to do, I was just lost.”

Despite George’s shortcomings, he’s bounced back nicely. During the 2021 NBA Playoffs, George would go on to average 26.9 points per game while leading the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals. George would then parlay that postseason run into a terrific season this past year.

Without Kawhi Leonard by his side, as he nursed a torn ACL, George was a dominant player, averaging 24.3 points per game. Unless the NBA organizes another bubble situation, it’s unlikely that George will have another forgettable postseason run for the rest of his time as an LA Clipper.

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