Before Game 6, which sent the Clippers packing to Cancun at the hands of my Phoenix Suns, Paul George of the Clippers claimed he was the most scrutinized player in the league. We all know that’s not true and that he brings scrutiny on himself, but Charles Barkley has apparently heard enough.
He went off on Pandemic P before tip-off. Watch:
Charles Barkley is fed up with people saying Paul George is the “most scrutinized” player and is being treated unfairly pic.twitter.com/M3kLjh24Uw— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 30, 2021
“Every great player before they win a championship gets criticized,” Barkley said.
And he’s being generous when he implies criticism sticks with you until you win. Kawhi Leonard has won two championships, one as a defensive specialist guarding LeBron James in 2014 and another as the leader of the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Yet NBA fans still criticize Leonard on load management, his inability to lead a third team to a title (which, to be fair, has been done only once in NBA history, by LeBron James), and whether or not he’s about to skip town on PG13 because of yesterday’s elimination to the Suns.
Winning has cured none of the criticism leveled at Leonard.
Moral of the story:
Winning doesn’t rid a player of criticism. Mediocrity does that, and if Paul George wants less criticism, then he should go play for the Indiana Pacers, where fewer NBA fans will care what he does. He handpicked the Los Angeles Clippers so he could pair his talents with Kawhi. Now he needs to deal with the expectations that come with that.
Charles Barkley likely holds this opinion because he endured a lot of criticism himself when he couldn’t dethrone the 1993 Bulls led by Michael Jordan. People were going to pile dirt on Sir Charles, regardless of the outcome that year. Here’s how it would have gone:
If the Suns had won, people would’ve said that Jordan choked, he was banged up, or his role players let him down. Or they would have pretended Phil Jackson was part of some underlying problem.
Since the Bulls won, Charles Barkley has been picked on for two decades because he could never get over the top. NBA fans thrust 100 percent of the blame on Barkley since he was such a great player. And I actually think that’s fair. Players like Charles and Paul George cash the biggest game checks. The least they can do is shoulder the biggest blame.
If you don’t like it, ignore it or get better. Paul George just wants to stop getting picked on for falling short, and the only solution I see is to head to a small town to go be a big fish in a small pond. The bright lights clearly aren’t for everyone (Jordan shrug).