Paul George committed one of the cardinal sins of sports branding when he gave himself the nickname “Playoff P.” Aside from Kobe Bryant’s infamous ‘Black Mamba’ sobriquet, few self-bestowed nicknames among major athletes ever stick. That is especially true when players don’t live up to them.
While George’s overall career playoff numbers are fine, his clutch performances have been somewhat disastrous. He has made only seven of his 22 clutch shot attempts since returning from his gruesome 2014 leg injury, failed in defending Damian Lillard on the final play of his first-round loss a year ago, and has not won a playoff series since 2013. While his Clippers lead the Dallas Mavericks 2-1 in their first-round series, George is now 7-of-33 from the field in the past two games.
And Charles Barkley, another player with a spotty postseason resume, is tired of it. The difference, in Barkley’s mind, is that he never tried to suggest that he was some sort of clutch killer. George hasn’t lived up to the nickname he himself created.
“You can’t be calling yourself ‘Playoff P’ and lose all the time,” Barkley said. “You don’t see me walking around saying ‘I won the championship’ because I didn’t win it. They don’t call me Championship Chuck.”
George does have some legitimately impressive playoff moments under his belt. He pushed LeBron James, at the absolute peak of his powers, to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. That isn’t nothing. But it’s been so long since George pulled off anything like that in the postseason that the self-imposed nickname, for the time being, doesn’t seem overly appropriate. George plays for a championship favorite now, though. If he wants to earn it, the opportunity is in front of him.