Paul George undeniably receives some of the most unwarranted hate of any NBA star. With many of his critics targeting his past playoff performances, a lot of that noise was silenced this past postseason when George put up historic numbers.
After Kawhi Leonard went down with injury, Paul George averaged 30/11/6, which included a game of 41 PTS, 13 REB, and 6 AST on 75% shooting when facing elimination on the road in the Western Conference Finals. With a 20-point performance in each of the 19 playoff games Paul George played in this past run, he joined Larry Bird, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kawhi Leonard, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O'Neal, Steph Curry, and Allen Iverson as the only 13 players in NBA history with at least 19 games of 20+ points in a single playoff run.
Joining the exclusive company that he did with this playoff run, Paul George has the right to call out those who acted as if he was incapable of such performances. When asked about his haters in an exclusive interview with Andrew Grief of the LA Times, Paul George said, "I don't give a shit. That's just how I attack the court now. Like I said, I don't need validation... 90 percent of the people who are critiquing me can't do what I do.”
If George is referencing strictly his online critics, then 100% of those critiquing him cannot do what he does. In fact, few players in NBA history have ever done what Paul George did during the 2021 playoffs. The exclusive company George joined during the playoffs did not stop at 20-point games. With 511 points, 183 rebounds, and 102 assists, Paul George joined Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James as the only five players in NBA history with 500 points, 180 rebounds, and 100 assists in a single playoff run. Giannis Antetokounmpo later joined that list during the NBA Finals.
A 6'9" forward with tight handles, elite defense, and a consistent 40% three-point shot is already a physiological anomaly. Add in the 7 All-Star games, 6 All-NBA teams, and 4 All-Defense teams, and George is being modest when he says 90 percent of his critics cannot do what he does.
With Kawhi Leonard out for an extended period of time, Paul George is presented with another opportunity to silence his critics. If what he did last season is any indication, he is on his way to doing exactly that.