If you could pick the mind of one of the best people in your line of work, would you?
“It would be great to be able to pick his brain, pick his mind and just talk about the game because I think he’s a player that can help me get to the next level and continue to keep going to the next level,” George told Basketball Insiders. “I wish some day we have that relationship where he is someone I can talk to—not during the season because I’m too competitive during the season—but maybe in the summertime.”
But apparently, that is a bad thing.
— Max Kellerman (@Max_Kellerman) March 6, 2014
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) March 6, 2014
— TrippySquad (@guerotron) March 6, 2014
None of this should be a surprise in such a “hot take” era of sports reporting, but every one seems to feel the need to tell PG what he’s doing wrong. PG is wrong for being honest enough to say he could learn a few things from LBJ. He’s wrong for not going all CM Punk and declaring himself the best in the world.
Well let me be your intellectual savior and point out why all this is stupid.
Let’s just start off with whether this is a sign of weakness as a real champion would never work with the very people trying to stop him from winning. Of course “His Airness” would have never done anything like this. He’d never work with his opponents in the offseason to improve himself.
For weeks, he stuck to a grueling schedule that started early in the morning and ended late at night. Around work on the film, there were highly charged evening pick-up basketball games featuring NBA stars such as Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Rodman, Reggie Miller, Juwan Howard and Glen Rice to name only a few.
Michael Jordan played against his top competitors whenever he could, even when shooting Space Jam. Do you think these guys didn’t pick each other’s brains? Do you really think it was all complete silence, steely eying each other and not enjoying each other’s company. And by the way, if you listen to enough old timers you’ll hear plenty of stories of these guys training against each other during the summer. Iron sharpens iron.
Now that we’ve shot down that theory that great players wouldn’t work with and against each other in the offseason, critics will move the field-goal posts and say he shouldn’t have said it publicly. That’s fine, but who cares? According to the Twitterverse, this will be why Paul George and the Pacers can’t beat the Heat, not because of PG’s poor shooting lately, the team’s turnovers, or anything on the floor, but because he doesn’t have the heart for it. That’s a familiar narrative, isn’t it?
In the binary world — of black and white, good and evil, winning and losing — that many fans and sportswriters live in, Paul George will now be marked as not being mentally, emotionally, (spiritually?) strong enough to handle to the pressure.
Let’s think about that flawed line of logic. In a given season, only one team can be champion. And that team was the only team with the Xs and Os, the players, and the heart to win. Obviously the entire San Antonio Spurs organization is flawed because they didn’t win in all last year. They just don’t have “It.” Because there can only be one team that has “It” per year.
It’s a stupid line of logic.
“It”— and having “It” — is always a moving target it seems. Just keep looking for another hurdle to throw because the last one was stupid, but this one, this one will stand. That’s the kind of logic that ignores common sense and history to say this is new. Today’s players aren’t as competitive as the basketball forefathers were. Doesn’t matter that Jordan and others did the same thing, this time it is different. It doesn’t matter that we know LeBron may be one of the best ever, it only matters that PG said he could learn from him. That’s weakness. That’s a sign he doesn’t have “It.”
If you have a problem with him saying “mentor”, I really can’t help you. You are just looking for any reason, no matter how petty, to find fault. Because there is only one champion, you can paint a target around where the arrow landed and claim that whatever theory you have is right. Until the Pacers beat the Heat, they’ll never have “It”, there will be a flaws with the players, the organization and how they operate, down to they’re very souls.
If you really think that because Paul George said he’d like to learn from LeBron in the offseason, “not during the season because I’m too competitive during the season,” that he somehow, magically, became a lesser player, then you are an idiot.
I’m doing what I can to point out how stupid that sort of thinking is.
Agree? Disagree? Hit Ben Gibson up on Twitter @CowboyOnPatrol.