Paul George and the LA Clippers have campaigned hard for the Black Lives Matter movement. But they got to show how much Mental Health Matters last night.
Mocked, ridiculed and showered with abuse on social media for his performances against the Dallas Mavericks, George finally found an answer.
The All-Star guard scored 35 points in a big 154-111 win on Tuesday night to help his team take a 3-2 lead in their first-round match-up.
George, a legitimate superstar, had struggled through the first four games, shooting just 29% and feeling the anger from success-starved Clippers fans.
After his Game 5 explosion, he spoke movingly about his struggles with depression in the Florida Bubble, where he consulted a psychiatrist.
George said: “I just got into a different place. Basically I just walked into a different place. I found myself.
“I underestimated mental health, honestly. I had anxiety, a little bit of depression. Just being locked in here. I just wasn't there. I checked out.
“Everybody reached out, whether it was in person, through a text. All of my guys showed up for me. They helped me. They were there when I needed them.
“I'm indebted to this team. The energy, the synergy, the camaraderie, the brotherhood. I can't thank this squad enough.
“It meant a lot. It's tough. This is really hard being in here. It's not easy. All day it's just basketball. It's hard to get away from it.
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"I mean, whatever it was, the bubble got the best of me. I was just in a dark place. I really wasn't here. I checked out. The past couple of games, it was just difficult.”
The Clippers, one of the favourites for the championship, can now wrap up the series on Thursday.
George also spoke movingly about the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin which has sparked protests.
He said: “You know, it's sad. Another one. This is America. Unless people decide to do the right thing. This is America. This is what's going on.
“This is what’s happening. It's still happening. Even after what happened with George Floyd. It's within them. There's some coward cops out there.
“It’s the system. We got to change it. I ask all my brothers and sisters out there to continue this fight while we're in here, we'll continue the fight while we're in here.
“It starts with our president. It goes from there. That's where it starts. It starts with people that are in position, the higher positions. It starts with them.
“To be truthful, I can't even say that. It starts with us as Americans, as voters. It starts with us as voters to put those people in position to do the right thing.
“We can’t blame them because that's who they are. We’re empowering him. As voters, it's on us.
“We got to put people in positions that are going to do the right thing, that know right from wrong.”
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