Being the go-to option sounds fun. It looks great. Michael Jordan making last-second shots; Patrick Mahomes spinning out of trouble and throwing a laser for a touchdown; Quinta Brunson delivering on another great episode of Abbott Elementary as the show’s creator and lead actor. Paul George has held that role in his NBA career, and he has decided that it is not for him.
A clip was released from an upcoming episode of The Old Man and the Three podcast. In it, George talked at length about how his best role as an NBA player is not as a team’s featured option, and he is very much at peace with that.
“I am confident with who I am,” George said to J.J. Redick. “I’m confident in what I can do. The game’s been good to me. I’ve made a shit ton of money playing this beautiful game.
“I haven’t won at any level. I haven’t won in high school. I haven’t won in college. I haven’t won in the NBA. If you’re that guy it’s like, ‘how do I win?’ Like what do I have to do to win? If [it means me] being a piece and not the whole piece then that’s what it is.”
Would I advise a young NBA player a year out from his first max contract to make a statement like that? Of course not. Faking it until you make it is crucial for any young person to achieve economic success in America.
However, once a solid financial situation is established, maybe a person realizes having the ball every possession in the final minute of the game is not an ideal role. For George maybe it means leaning away from his alter ego “Playoff P,” who is angry with C.J. Miles for taking a last-second shot. It takes not only special talent but also a high level of resolve to power through failures and not be satisfied with victories.
Brunson just said at the SAG Awards that having all of the responsibilities she has behind the scenes on her show, “is the worst, it’s not fun.” Does it look fun to be Jordan and have your competitive streak still smoldering on camera in your late 50s? George of course would play in a postseason game with his body less than 100 percent healthy, but being the focal point of an offense with an injury like the one Mahomes had in the Super Bowl is a Herculean task.
Leaders are necessary in this world. For there to be order, there is a need for certain people to be in charge. Whether or not the people in those leadership positions are effective can be addressed in a different story, but those roles must be assumed by someone.
For those with both the talent and temperament to be the big boss, kudos to you. I hope you all lead in a way that is both fair and results in success. And for those like George who understand that using their talents to assist a leader can be both fulfilling and lucrative, a salute to you all and your high level of self-awareness.