Paul George Interview: LA Clippers Star on Return to Court in Orlando - Rolling Stone
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NBA Star Paul George Talks Returning to the Court During COVID, New Partnership With Theragun

The LA Clippers star and new Theragun brand ambassador arrived in Orlando two weeks ago to join the “NBA Bubble,” as the league gets set to restart its season in the midst of a global pandemic

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The NBA resumes its COVID-shortened season in just nine days, and for LA Clippers basketball star, Paul George, it can’t come soon enough. The small forward arrived in Orlando two weeks ago to join his teammates and 21 other teams in the so-called “NBA Bubble,” where teams will be playing in pre-designated arenas with no fans, as the league aims to wrap up its season in the midst of a global health pandemic.

George, who had been quarantining at home in LA, says it was nice to spend the last few months with friends and family, but he’s eager to get back to work. “I’m excited to get back on the court, and the league is taking every precaution to make us feel safe,” he says. “Obviously it is tough to be away from family for this long, but our team is confident we will make it worth it.”

A six-time NBA All-Star and a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2016 Olympics, George continues to be one of the most respected and popular players in the league today. It’s a fact further cemented by the announcement this week that George is the latest athlete ambassador for Theragun, the popular percussive massage device brand.

As part of the partnership, George will help to promote the Theragun PRO massager, in addition to the Theragun mini (pictured above), and the company’s new Wave Roller, a vibrating foam roller that launches this week. Theragun says it hopes to show that the same state-of-the-art technology athletes rely on to reduce muscle tension and accelerate recovery, can be available to the general public as well (say, to unwind after a long day at work, or to loosen knots after a strenuous workout).

While he’s had deals and endorsements with everyone from Gatorade to Nike, George says the partnership with Theragun (recently rebranded as “Therabody” after the launch of CBD wellness products) came just as naturally to him. “I was introduced to Theragun when I first got to the league and started using it when I was drafted,” he says. “Soon, I was taking it wherever I went. I can’t live without my Theragun, especially during the season,” he continues, “and I’m a fan of their products, so a partnership just felt natural.”

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Theragun says its devices are quieter than an electric toothbrush, yet get 60% deeper into sore knots and muscles than regular massage guns. For George, it was important, as an athlete, to promote something that could actually improve performance, rather than just putting his name behind a product for a paycheck. “The devices allow me to train harder, move better, and recover faster,” stresses the ten-year veteran, who’s known as one of the toughest and most physical players in the league. “The biggest thing is it has helped me accelerate my recovery, which is key during the season with back-to-back games, and for regular off-season workouts. It also increases blood flow and range of motion, so it’s great to use during pregame shoot-around, and the effects last throughout the game.”

And while he won’t be traveling anytime soon, George says the Theragun’s portability has come in handy when he’s been on the road. “It’s helped me in so many ways because I listen to my body and can treat myself when I need it,” he says, of the lightweight, wireless device.

For now, George is locked down with the rest of his team in Orlando, as the league prepares to restart the season. A series of preliminary games will help determine seeding for the playoffs, before the traditional four-round playoff format kicks off with the top 16 teams.

Related: Watch the NBA Return on ESPN+

George, who says he tried to keep up a good workout routine while stuck at home (while also “binging some Netflix shows”), the anticipation to get back on the court is high. “The team facility has been closed for most of quarantine so I’ve had to do a lot of working out at home,” he says. “I’ve been focusing on a lot of body weight training and cardio. You can prep extensively physically and mentally, but can’t get into true basketball shape without actually playing a full-game with nine other guys, so it’s been great to get to Orlando and start practicing with the team again.”

The Clippers have the second-best record in the Western Conference (behind Lebron James and the Lakers), and George says he’s confident the team has what it takes to make it to the finals. “I have a lot of incredibly talented teammates and we feel good about the work we are putting in here in Orlando getting ready for the final stretch of the season,” he says. “Our team has worked so hard this season, and it’s important to us to finish out the season together.”

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