The Clippers’ new star had just finished a dazzling performance before an adoring crowd, supportive teammates and an encouraged coach. The Clippers seemingly could not imagine a better script than what George wrote in his Clippers’ debut at home.
The Clippers cruised to a 150-101 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday with George showing efficiency in almost every category. He passed Phil Smith for most points in a Clippers home game with a career-high 37. No one else in NBA history had ever scored that many points in fewer than 21 minutes. Only two days earlier in a loss to New Orleans, George had 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes in his season debut.
How has George become so efficient in such limited playing time when he hadn’t played in nearly seven months after having offseason surgery on his left and right shoulders?
“New shoulders,” George said. “I can’t say nothing else to that. I got new shoulders. They haven’t been this healthy in a long time.”
No, they haven’t. George had not played in an NBA game since April 23 when the Oklahoma City Thunder fell in five games to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Shortly afterwards, George then had separate surgical procedures to repair a torn tendon in his right rotator cuff and a torn labrum in his left shoulder. And now?
George knocked down so many shots that he announced, “I’m back,” before mimicking Michael Jordan’s infamous shrug during the 1992 NBA playoffs. He became so confident that he threw an off-the-backboard pass to Montrezl Harrell for a dunk. George has looked so prepared that Clippers coach Doc Rivers openly wondered if George has trained earlier than the Clippers let him.