Paul George compares taking back seat to Kawhi Leonard to Dwyane Wade taking back seat to LeBron James on Miami Heat - Heat Nation

Paul George compares taking back seat to Kawhi Leonard to Dwyane Wade taking back seat to LeBron James on Miami Heat

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George is apparently content to be the sidekick of teammate Kawhi Leonard, comparing his situation to that of Dwyane Wade during the Miami Heat’s Big 3 era.

George spoke about his current situation with the Clippers, noting that there’s no jealousy in how the two superstar players are perceived.

“Yeah, look at the [Miami Heat] wing-wing D-Wade (Wade) and LeBron [James],” George said. “I think it just comes down to — listen, Kawhi is the No. 1. And I am totally fine with that. I think I try to complement him with being able to take the load off of him.

“Everybody says, ‘Kawhi [and] you are 1 and 1, [or] 1A, 1B.’ I’ll publicly say, I’m the 2. Kawhi’s the 1, I’m the 2. So that part we nipped in the bud. Like there’s no ego when it comes to that.”

George and Leonard both joined the Clippers in 2019, with George being acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Leonard signing with the team in free agency.

When the two players were acquired, there were lofty visions of the Clippers being strong contenders to capture Western Conference titles and NBA titles.

Those dreams have become clouded in the past three years, with the Clippers still simply looking to reach the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

In the bubble-enforced playoffs of 2020, the Clippers appeared to indeed be strong title contenders. However, a meltdown in the conference semifinals resulted in them blowing a 3-1 lead in their series against the Denver Nuggets.

During the 2021 postseason, the Clippers reached the Western Conference finals, but lost in six games to the Phoenix Suns. That defeat came after Leonard suffered an ACL injury during the preceding series against the Utah Jazz.

Leonard subsequently underwent surgery in July 2021 and ended up missing the entire 2021-22 campaign. His absence and George being limited to just 31 regular season games resulted in the Clippers managing a mediocre 42-40 record last season.

That record was good enough to get the Clippers into the play-in portion of the postseason. That trip was a brief one, as consecutive losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans ended the Clippers’ season.

The Difference

Heat fans might take exception to George’s comparison, considering that the team’s success with Wade and James on the same team had much different results.

In each of James’ four seasons with the Heat, the team won the Eastern Conference title. The Heat also captured back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

With three years of little or no results, the clock is beginning to tick a bit louder for George and Leonard. George is 32 and Leonard is 31, which means their window of opportunity to win a championship is getting closer to being shut.

The Clippers’ title bid this season will be made more difficult by the presence of the defending champion Golden State Warriors. In addition, James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be in the mix if they can stay healthy and effectively integrate Russell Westbrook into the team’s lineup.

George’s perception may be open to debate. However, until he and Leonard win two titles, Heat fans will likely ignore the comparison.

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