Report: Clippers didn’t respect Paul George as much as Kawhi Leonard
The Los Angeles Clippers openly acknowledged that chemistry issues contributed to their disappointing early exit from the NBA playoffs, and we are starting to learn more about those locker room problems.
Jovan Buhan published an outstanding feature for The Athletic this week that examined what went wrong with the 2019-20 Clippers. In it, Buhan detailed how Kawhi Leonard and Paul George received preferential treatment, which was a big change from the structure the 2018-19 Clippers were accustomed to as a group of overachieving players without any real star power.
Before every game last season, the Clippers’ training staff spent roughly 20 to 45 minutes creating a private space for Leonard to go through his pregame routine. That private space reportedly occupied the female staffers’ locker room at times both on the road and at Staples Center, which made some Clippers players and staffers “uneasy.”
While the treatment Leonard received was clearly excessive at times, Buhan says his teammates largely accepted it because Kawhi is a two-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. George also received some preferential treatment with regard to practice schedules and time off, but Clippers players did not view it the same way. Multiple sources told Buhan that George’s teammates had a, “What have you accomplished in the playoffs?” attitude toward him.
The entire feature is worth reading, as it provides incredible detail about the road leading up to an early Orlando exit and Doc Rivers leaving the Clippers.
George is obviously a phenomenal player, but you need look no further than his playoff elimination game stats to know how he has struggled in the postseason. Leonard, on the other hand, has carried multiple teams to titles. You can understand why teammates did not view them as being on equal ground.