Paul George explains shutting out his parents while in NBA bubble: ‘I was just in a dark place’

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George recently revealed that while he was playing games in the NBA’s pandemic-enforced bubble in 2020, he stopped speaking to his parents.

George offered comments on his podcast and stated (at the 1:09:45 mark) that the isolation resulting from the extraordinary circumstances took a toll on his mental health.

“That’s really where I got the help,” George said. “I had to talk to somebody. I had to work through s—. I was in a dark hole bro, no bulls—. I was in a dark hole in the bubble, just because it was no outlet. I couldn’t talk to nobody, and it was literally my phone, the TV. Only s— that we really could watch on TV was the games, the sports. And so it was just a constant thing, and even when I shut that s— off, my parents watched that s— nonstop, so now I’m talking to them, they bringing the s— up like, ‘You hear what so-and-so saying?’ I’m like, ‘Man, stop calling me.’ So now I’m shut off from my family, so I was just in a dark place.”

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the NBA and many other professional leagues in March 2020, with the NBA resuming action four months later in Orlando, Fla. Unlike normal NBA games, those contests were played with no fans in attendance and strict health protocols in place.

George and his Clippers teammates were within the bubble for more than two months, with practices getting underway in early July and the team’s final game taking place on Sept. 15. That extended span of time gave George an inordinate amount of time to occupy himself.

As a result of the unusual circumstances, mental health concerns were a possibility for not only George, but every other player as well. Last year, George also indicated that he was plagued with insomnia for two weeks during his time in the bubble.

From a playing perspective, George and his teammates also endured a painful conclusion to that campaign. After taking a 3-1 lead in the team’s Western Conference semifinals matchup against the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers proceeded to drop three straight games, with double-digit losses coming in the final two games.

That interrupted 2019-20 season marked George’s first with the Clippers, as he had previously been acquired in a blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The acquisitions of George and Kawhi Leonard in 2019 gave rise to hopes that the Clippers would make a serious run at an NBA title after decades of futility.

Instead, the loss to the Nuggets resulted in blame being pointed at George and other teammates. In one reported instance, George’s efforts to inspire teammates after the collapse to the Nuggets were largely met with disdain.

That 2019-20 season also marked the beginning of George’s struggles to stay healthy with the Clippers. Including that season, the superstar has played in only 189 regular season contests over the past four campaigns.

This past season, the Clippers once again came up short in the postseason, which no doubt frustrated the 33-year-old George. However, the circumstances were much different than those he dealt with three years ago.

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Brad has written on a variety of both NBA and NFL topics and has worked previously as a sports information director at the collegiate level. A lifetime fan of sports, he's witnessed countless great moments in different sports and understands that stories can be compelling from both the perspective of winners and losers. As a frustrated fan of Cleveland sports, he experienced something unprecedented when the Cavaliers won the city's first championship in 52 years.