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Paul George wants LeBron James to be his mentor

Mar 6, 2014, 2:34 PM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat Getty Images

If you want to beat the best, you need to learn from the best.

Paul George wants to beat the best, and right now the best is LeBron James.

LeBron may be the most physically gifted player in the game (arguably ever) but he also has maybe the best basketball mind in the game. Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski praised LeBron for helping him game plan, and LeBron has the most photographic recall of plays of any player I have seen. LeBron’s hoop IQ is ridiculous.

Paul George told Basketball Insiders he wants to understand how LeBron thinks.

“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….

“He’s someone that motivates me,” said George, who is averaging 22.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. “This league is all about guys being competitive and competing. And don’t get me wrong, every time I’m matched up with him I’m going to try to get the best out of him and come out as the best player of that game. But at the same time, he’s been someone that I looked up to. He’s someone I’m going to continue to look up to because at the end of the day, the position I want to be in is where he’s at.”

First, you have to admire Paul George for this — he wants to get better and he knows there are a handful of guys who can really give him insights to get there. LeBron is one of those guys.

LeBron may well be up for this — he has had off-season workouts with Kevin Durant, he has sought out players and situations who can help push his game to the next level.

Paul George may end up part of Team USA headed to Spain late this summer for the FIFA World Cup. That will certainly be an experience that can help George grow — high levels of competition and a chance to be around and watch how guys like Durant and Kevin Love and how they go about their craft.

But don’t be surprised if George and LeBron get together for some workouts, too.

  1. miamiheatles - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Lebron said earlier this season that he wishes Jordan would give him more advice and mentor him a little….

  2. mistaswerve - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Lebron said earlier this season that he wishes Jordan would give him more advice and mentor him a little.

  3. cantonbound13 - Mar 6, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    So he wants his connection? I believe it’s Tony Bosche, allegedly.

    • fanofthegame79 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Dude, your posts get old. You have no creativity – you spew the same junk day after day. About the only credit I can give you is consistency.

      • cantonbound13 - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        8 thumbs up & counting.

      • casualcommenter - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        Realistically, fanofthegame79, cantonbound’s team is the Knicks, who are terrible this year and are going to be terrible next year whether Carmelo sticks around or not.

        Cantonbound spent all of last year insisting the Knicks were a championship contender, and this year, he’s decided to spend this season making the same LeBron PED comment.

        This is what happens when you give 13 year olds with no life internet access. Trolling.

      • psung26 - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:04 PM

        34 thumbs down & counting.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:10 PM

      I got 8 thumbs up for my comment on the Dwight Howard post the other day… and 120 thumbs down. Do I get a “Welcome To The Cantonbound Club” award or something?

      • jimeejohnson - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:15 PM

        You are nowhere near the pea brain she is.

    • gmsingh123 - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      Kurt is right, Lebron is probably the most physically gifted player to play basketball. But it seems weird to me that people actually think this is simply a coincidence that this happens when stuff like HGH and testosterone injections are floating around professional sports.

    • rebelcat13 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      IDIOT!!

      • rebelcat13 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:11 PM

        My previous response is aimed at that no life loser Cantonbound.

      • cantonbound13 - Mar 8, 2014 at 3:06 AM

        Can’t handle the truth?

  4. progress2011 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    That’s Powerful ! Shows the utmost respect for a guy on a competing team in his conference.

    Say what you like about LBJ but as he proved by getting the Big 3 together….other players (as Wade did/does) have GREAT respect for him.

    I watch closely, the relationships and inner-squabbles on the court and LBJ typically takes the high road.

    His unselfishness and keeping other players involved, doesn’t need to be mentioned.

    I don’t know the guy/ will never know him but from the outside looking in, how other elite players want to be around him, pick his brain and play on his teams….speaks VOLUMES.

    • azarkhan - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Great start, but a hagiography is usually a bit longer.

  5. aboogy123456 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Hey why not kobe!? I’m sure he has a lot more wisdom to impart on George than lebron. Bad mentor choice, bro.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      He said he’s trying to get where LeBron is. Kobe has never been there.

      • aboogy123456 - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        So what is lebron going to realistically teach george, how to be bigger and faster than everybody? That’s not something George will learn how to do. Kobe mastered every aspect of his game and is fundamentally someone that young players should look up to. Regardless, I think George is just being respectful to the best player in the game right now and nothing else.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:12 PM

        Kobe’s play style is outdated by at least a decade. It is no longer enough just to be able to score 30-35 points and get a few assists here and there. Today you have to know how to consistently get 30-35 points and 8-9 assists. That is what LeBron taught Durant, and that is something LeBron can impart on George. (Mind blowing fact of the day: LeBron averages 8.4 assists every time he scores 50 points. Kobe average’s 3.4.)

        In general, I’d say LeBron can teach 3 things that Kobe really has no clue about: 1) good shot selection 2) how to see the floor like a point guard – all the time and 3) how to truly quarterback a defense.

      • psung26 - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        Kobe’s been there. Lebron’s there now. Paul George may be there someday. Your posts will never be there anyday :)

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:43 PM

        Kobe’s been where?

        LeBron 4x MVP, 2x Finals MVP = 6 total 
        Magic 3x MVP, 3x Finals MVP = 6 total 
        Bird 3x MVP, 2x Finals MVP = 5 total 
        Duncan 2x MVP, 3x Finals MVP = 5 total 
        Shaq 1x MVP, 3x Finals MVP = 4 total 
        Kobe 1x MVP, 2x Finals MVP = 3 total <—– Not Good Enough

      • ProBasketballPundit - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        That’s absolutely true. Kobe never deserved an MVP award and LeBron has deserved the last five.

      • blackman24 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/02/us-nba-pacers-george-idUSBRE9B10S720131202

        Don’t let the hate blind you. He wants to learn from Lebron, but he patterns his game after his IDOL Kobe.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        We all know that he’s a Kobe fan. He wears his shoes. What does that have to do with anything?

        In any case, ideally a player today wants to shoot at least 50% and average 30 points and 9 assists. That’s the LeBron James standard, and George is aware of that.

      • blackman24 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:41 PM

        “I had a lot of growth from having (Shaw) and hearing about how Kobe prepares and gets ready for games,” George said. “(Kobe) is somebody that plays both sides of the ball. He’s willing to put everything on the line. I’m going to give everything I have, and try to affect the game in every way I can.

        Paul George this season.

        You are aware he wears number #24 because of Kobe?

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM

        That’s irrelevant. No one was arguing whether George liked one player over the other.

      • psung26 - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        ^ I laugh at your cherry picking of accolades. Of the 30 accomplishments you could’ve chosen, you chose the 2 out of 30 that makes Lebron look better..

        You’re super cute.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        LeBron always looks better.

    • miamatt - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      No disrespect to Kobe, he’s an all-timer.

      But if you think LeBron is all physical gifts and nothing else, you couldn’t be more mistaken. He is the intersection of elite talent, elite basketball IQ, and elite work ethic.

      It must also be stated that part of his genius includes interpersonal relationships. When the best player in the game is also the most unselfish, that has an impact. There’s a reason young players seek him out, and there is a reason he will be able to attract elite talent to any competent organization he plays for. People love to play with this guy. That cannot be said of Kobe.

      • gostlcards5 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        I totally agree with you, for a few reasons. First, as blackman24 said above, PG has stated that he has already learned some things about Kobe and his preparation from Brian Shaw (certainly, he could learn more from Kobe directly, and maybe picking Kobe’s brain about developing his killer instinct would be a benefit to PG). Also, however, from the way he carries himself (his nature, so to speak), PG is much more similar to LeBron than Kobe. Kobe doesn’t give a hoot about deferring to his teammates when the game is on the line…his mindset is to make the shot. LeBron is different, because a lot of his game is patterned on making the play….not necessarily on making the shot.

    • blackman24 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/02/us-nba-pacers-george-idUSBRE9B10S720131202

      Man, these cats in here are haters.

  6. pharohislife - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Shameful, Disgraceful, Pathetic, and Disturbing. Giving Lebron James yet another boost and edge in matchups between the two. Why? You’re better than this George.

    • pharohislife - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      Well at least like Paul George said himself. Why couldn’t he have waited until the summer time to say this. Just not now, this was the worst time, in the midst of all Indiana’s Recent struggles you don’t say this during the season knowing what likely lies ahead for you in the playoffs.

  7. southsidegroovin281 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    I swear to Naismith himself this is the most “Funboy friendly” era of basketball. Too many cats want to be friends instead of competitors. Big respect to ppl like Rondo.

    • chitownmatt - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      BIrd….

      I wonder how Paul George’s boss feels about this.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Bird is one of LeBron’s biggest supporters, so I’m not sure he would mind the idea. It would be like a young player in 1993 saying that they want to learn from Jordan – who is going to criticize that?

      • kb2408 - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        Best comment of the day, sir!

    • 00maltliquor - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      “Funboy”

      I like how you spun that. I know what you meant, and yeah, agreed.

      It may be cool and all to these guys to be that way but myself personally as a fan of the game would love to see him hate his guts and all things Heat associated.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      Yeah, it really bothered me when Magic and Isiah and Jordan and Barkley started this “Funboy friendly” era back in the 80s and 90s. Way too friendly. Wilt and Russell were never kissing eachother before games like Magic and Isiah or golfing together during the finals like Jordan and Barkley. Embarrassing.

    • miamatt - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      This is really just a fan viewpoint- we want these guys to hate each other, but reality is they are millionaire co-workers.

      I don’t see how it makes them less competitive, though. When you play pick-up ball or whatever against friends and siblings, don’t you want to beat them? I try to kill my friends when we play, even more than I would a stranger. A friend is somebody who will have ample opportunity off the court to remind you what happened last time you played.

      • gostlcards5 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Exactly, and George even says, he couldn’t do it during the season, because he is too competitive.

  8. cruzan80 - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    I’m sorry but I got into basketball in the late 80’s….all this BFF crap is just too much sometimes in my very humble opinion.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      So you don’t remember Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas kissing each other before games in the 80’s? Hugging and kissing before every game… doesn’t ring a bell? They were seriously BFFs back then.

      • casualcommenter - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Another fun fact is that Michael Jordan and Charles Barkely were good friends too.

        The difference between now and then is that athletes didn’t post pictures on Twitter when they hung out, so many fans didn’t know at the time if they were friends.

        If Twitter existed, there would be a lot of pictures of Barkley and Jordan partying at Vegas Casinos in the offseason that fans would complain about.

      • kb2408 - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM

        Yeah, and do YOU remember them nearly coming to blows in that same series?!

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        Same series? They kissed before every game they faced each other – regular season or playoffs.

        Remember Jordan and Barkley golfing together during the 1993 finals? They were BFFs too. LeBron and Durant got a lot heat just for a week of training in the offseason – but you would never catch them golfing together like Chuck and MJ while battling in the finals.

        This garbage about modern players being too friendly is completely bogus.

      • cruzan80 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        I also remember the Pistons walking off the court not shaking the hands of the Bulls after they got eliminated. I also remember Michael Jordan not shaking Alonzo Mourning’s hand before a game. I also remember Jordan keeping Zeek off the “Dream Team”. I also remember Jordan & Reggie Miller trying to kill one another, Larry Johnson & Zo trying to kill one another, Scottie Pippen & Rodman trying to kill one another…ect. Pistons hated the Celtics. Bulls hated the Pistons. Knicks hated the Bulls. Pacers hated the Knicks. I can go on & on & on & on & on…..

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:00 PM

        Yeah, players do that today – remember the hubbub about LeBron not shaking hands with the Celtics?

        Remember “The People’s Elbow”? Remember “The Pittman’s Elbow”? Remember how vicious and bloody the Heat-Pacers series was in 2012? That was as brutal and contentious as any series I can remember, and I’m not a young pup. Remember Le Malice at La Palace? Remember Raja and Kobe? Remember Dwyane Wade? Players will always attack each other.

        The relationships in the league haven’t changed that much. What has changed dramatically is our access to, and coverage of, these friendships – altering our perception of them because of increased exposure.

    • progress2011 - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      I also remember in the 80’s…parents would BEAT their children in public.

      But over the course of 30 years…we’ve become more educated and learned, that may not be the best method “All The Time”
      Even though I believe some kids need to get their butts WHOOPED….But that can’t be the norm, across the board.

      James is an educated, articulate gentleman. PG seems to have the same characteristics. I think they are intelligent enough to collaborate off the court and still get after it, on the court. As someone else referenced Magic’s relationship with Isiah. He was also cool with Bird. But they got after each other when the whistle blew.

      We don’t need EVERYBODY in the league to be Dennis Rodman or Bill Laimbeer.

      4 Real !

      • cruzan80 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Reggie Miller, Alonzo Mourning, Michael Jordan & Isiah Thomas are all very well educated men & were also in MANY fights & had many feuds with players on opposing teams…..it has nothing to do with being a “articulate gentleman”. Its a different level of competitive nature that exist in the NBA today. Players were hungrier then. I’m not saying that I WANT to see more fights….but the love fest is a little annoying. It’s a NBA thing. They’re the only major American sport without major rivalries.

      • gostlcards5 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        I agree, and I think PG saw this during that cool moment in the ECF last year, when he and LeBron were going head-to-head making shots, and as the timeout was called, LBJ called him back to slap five.

  9. miamiheatles - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Wow.

  10. miamatt - Mar 6, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    “When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
    -Nietzsche

  11. whitey11177 - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Paul George is just doing what people in real jobs do; learn from and emulate successful people. It’s only a problem if George starts deferring to LeBron on the court.

    • gostlcards5 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      I agree. As a Pacers fan, I LIKE to hear him say this, because what he is saying is that he wants to learn from champions, in order to help himself have the higher potential of becoming a champion himself.

  12. bougin89 - Mar 6, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    Why wouldn’t every player want to be more like Lebron? I hope Giannis tries to model his game after Lebron. Efficient, well rounded, smart, two way player that is also the #1 option on his team.

  13. kb2408 - Mar 6, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    As much as I like Paul G, I have lost all respect!! You don’t go to the biggest hurdle to you winning a title for “mentoring”!! MJ didn’t go to Magic to be mentored! Isiah didn’t go to Bird for mentoring!! Pepsi doesn’t go to Coke and says how do we make a better soft drink!! I love the NBA but I sure miss the days of players wanting to rip each other’s heads off to win a title!!

    • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:04 PM

      You have to think about it a little differently – James is more than just another competitor or George’s biggest hurdle. LeBron is a living legend – he just happens to be an active player and still relatively young. The norms of interaction that apply to George and other young SFs, do not apply to them when it comes to how they interact with LeBron. James is what the Spartans may have referred to as “a Godlike man” – as Homer wrote:

      “For he seemed not, he,
      The child of a mortal man, but as one that of God’s seed came.”

      • kb2408 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:50 PM

        PG could’ve gone to him in private after the season. His timing sucks! You don’t go to your opponent in the heat of the battle and say, “mentor me”!! I picked the Pacers to win the title this season, I have now changed my mind.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 8:06 PM

        You should’ve known better than that, KB. I wonder why you couldn’t see this side of George months ago like the rest of us… all you had to do was watch him in the elimination games vs LeBron to understand where is brain is at in this regard.

      • spthegr8 - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:11 PM

        @Anti
        Wow. That was a serious SLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURP session Anti. Even for you SMFH!!!!!

      • antistratfordian - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:46 PM

        Haha. Yeah, this one was pretty good. Any time you’re talking about basketball and you can find a way to quote The Iliad by way of Nicomachean Ethics – you know you’re in the zone.

      • ddogdaddy - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:09 AM

        Am I the only one to see what is happening here? Paul George putting the full court press on LBJ to getting him to come play for the next “great” team. Can you imagine the Pacers right now with James in the line up? I think I may have just wet myself.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:40 PM

        You’re actually right about that. I’ve never considered the Pacers as a place for James – but you’re right. PG would have to play SG – but they could lock up absolutely any team you put in front of them. LeBron would keep the offense humming. They would win, at minimum, back-to-back titles.

      • bougin89 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        While it is cute to watch you converse with your soul mate you’re again only looking at this through your Lebron James glasses.

        “I wonder why you couldn’t see this side of George months ago like the rest of us… all you had to do was watch him in the elimination games vs LeBron to understand where is brain is at in this regard.”

        It was George’s first season being “the guy” in the playoffs. He’s clearly still growing as a player.

        Age 22 post seasons counting stat(per 36 mins) for both players:

        20.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 41% fg, 28% 3fg in 20 games

        16.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.2 spg 43% fg, 32% 3fg in 19 games

        I would undoubtedly put Lebron’s postseason ahead of George’s(in those respective seasons) but Lebron was “the guy” on his team the first game he was on the court. Lebron was way ahead of the curve because of his natural abillities.

        Now factor in Lebron is in his basketball prime(a prime George won’t get to) and George is still in his pre-prime years and you get last year’s result in the playoffs.

        I’m sure your version makes sense in a Lebron loving way though.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        Didn’t we talk about this before, bougin? A convo about whether George was intimidated by LeBron? It was a suggestion of mine which you thought was preposterous, if I recall. But I think his latest comments coupled with his performances against him in high stakes games only strengthens that argument.

        It was already clear to some people before (people like me), but it’s now only becoming clear to others (people like you and kb2408).

      • bougin89 - Mar 11, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        We didn’t have that conversation, if I recall.

        Obviously we are arguing opinions. I guess mine comes from enjoying going against really good players, especially when they were my assignment on defense. Usually really good defenders, especially as good as George/James, wouldn’t be able to become as good as they are if they were ever intimidated. Which is why I don’t buy your argument at all.

        James went through the same type of thing George went through last year in the playoffs a few times in Cleveland. I would never argue that James was ever intimidated. The only difference was James was a much better player overall than George was if you’re comparing their same age seasons. Neither was ever intimidated though.

      • gostlcards5 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        @kb2408 – You can say that if you want, but I think your assessment is silly.

        PG gets ripped by a lot of people for saying a lot of things, talking too much, etc. Most of the time, he is getting asked these questions and responding honestly. I can guarantee you he’s not walking up to some random reporter and saying “man, I really want LeBron to mentor me, and here’s why…..”

  14. mitchem85 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    FIFA World Cup?! That’s soccer…

  15. kb2408 - Mar 6, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Most of the comments today obviously are from dudes 35 and under…or more appropriately, the AAU era. AAU basketball is ruining the sport on the pro level as well as the college level.

  16. velocirep - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:28 PM

    Maybe he wants to be like Kobe AND Lebron because he wants to be the best?…

    Kobe lover = Lebron hater
    Lebron lover = Kobe hater

    How bout we get off both their jocks and relish the freakin competition building in the rivalry? They would barely blink at you in person anyway.

    If you think you need to hate someone off the court to be competitive then you must have a lot of estrogen in your system.
    Men rip each others throats out on the court and chum it up right after. Loosen your nickers man.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      THIS^

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