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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Bryan Kalbrosky

Paul George is excited to mentor Bones Hyland: ‘We’re going to open our arms’

Paul George will represent the L.A. Clippers at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This will be the eighth All-Star appearance for George, who has 23.3 points to go with 6.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. The Clippers (31-28) are three games above .500 and just two and a half games back of the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

George’s Clippers made some significant changes at the NBA trade deadline, acquiring Mason Plumlee and Eric Gordon as well as Bones Hyland. The 32-year-old wing spoke to For The Win about these recent transactions and how it impacts their pursuit of a championship.

He also caught up with us about his plans for All-Star Weekend in Utah.

George spoke about his upcoming partnership with AT&T. He and Vince Carter will star in AT&T’s Playmaker Arcade VR game, which allows fans onsite at NBA Crossover to turn themselves into a 360 avatar while fans at home can play along through a web version of the game.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. 

Does it feel like the Western Conference is wide open for anyone to win?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

PG: After the new additions, the West is more competitive than ever. We’ve got our hands full. From top to bottom, especially in the second half, it’s going to come down to a real grind and battle. So I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. I think it’s going to be good for the fans and good for TV. It’s going to be really competitive.

Were there any trades that happened that surprised you?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

PG: You know what? I’m never surprised. I think some teams take advantage of the opportunity. So I’m not really surprised. You know something is going to go down. You just don’t know where it will happen. I expect teams to shake up around the league. It’s never a surprise.

The Clippers made big moves at the deadline. What are your early thoughts?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

PG: I think they’re all high-level, high-character, high-IQ players. I’ve enjoyed competing against all of them whether it’s been 10-plus years with Eric Gordon and Mason Plumlee or it’s been two with Bones Hyland, they’re all incredible talents. I’m glad to have them on the team.

What advice would you give to Bones Hyland about changing teams for the first time?

PG: When you go to a new team, it’s tough because when you get drafted, you think you’re going to play for the team you were drafted by for the rest of your career. You just grow an attachment to the city and to the organization and your teammates. For him, we’re going to open our arms. We’re going to welcome him. He’s coming into a situation with a lot of great veterans that can help him and mentor him. At the end of the day, we want what is best for him and his situation. He’s going to have a lot of help. We look forward to the mentorship.

What are you most looking forward to about All-Star Weekend?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

PG: As the years go up, I’m still playing at a high level. So it feels good to be appreciated for the season that I’ve had. It took a ton of work. We’ve been battling a lot throughout the season but it speaks volumes about our team and how well we’ve been playing. I think this All-Star selection is more about how the team is doing.

What can you tell me about your partnership with AT&T at All-Star Weekend?

PG: It’s futuristic. AT&T is going toward the video game side. I did a body scan not too long ago. It’s kind of cool to have a virtual version of myself. It was dope. I’ve seen my character on many occasions in NBA 2K. But it was pretty cool to see it in an augmented reality where it was like a 3D image that came to life right in front of me. Vince Carter did it as well. We’ll have our virtual characters pretty much crowning the dunk champion. It was cool to be a part of it. I’m interested to see how it is going to look.

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