Beef history: Devin Booker, Paul George meet for first time since summer standoff
Jan 3, 2024, 1:07 PM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker has made a reputation for beefing with other star players, but few have reached the boiling point like the one with Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George.
Wednesday’s matchup at Footprint Center between the two Western Conference title hopefuls will mark the first meeting since a standoff in the summer in which Booker accused George of fanning the flames.
“I don’t know where it took the turn. Things got heated when we played Phoenix. Conversations sparked, and it came from that end,” George told Bleacher Report following the accusation.
“Me and Devin always been good, he was little bro when he came into the league,” George continued. “Then all of a sudden the temperature changed to where now it was a line that was, you know, stepped over the line. So now it is what it is at this point.”
Wednesday at team shootaround before the game, Booker was much more dismissive of any beef, as he often is.
“It’s just competitive,” Booker said. “It’s just never been resolved,” since an incident in 2021 where Booker defended Cam Payne’s block on George.
Will it ever be resolved?
“I honestly don’t care. It’s just hoops man, it’s competitive. It’s nothing that lives off the floor.”
How did the beef between Devin Booker and Paul George start?
On Jan. 3, 2021, Payne blocked a George floater attempt, and George took exception because Payne fell on top of him in the process. Booker ended the squabble by appearing to shout “Sit your ass down” multiple times.
The Suns were down more than 30 points in the first half of that game but came almost all the way back, cutting the deficit to as little as two in the fourth, potentially causing some uneasiness for George.
They ended up losing by five.
In the postseason just months later, the two teams were locked in a hotly-contested Western Conference Finals. With the Suns leading the series 2-1 and ahead early in Game 4, George’s temper flared after a hard foul from Booker.
The technical free throws helped the Suns win the game by four, and they sealed the series with a blowout in Game 6.
Then, after a spat between Booker and Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson which did stay purely on the court, George asked Thompson about it on his podcast.
Thompson insisted he made a mistake with how he handled the game, in which he was ejected for the first time in his career.
That’s when Booker made his accusation in an Instagram comment, bringing us to where we are today.
Devin Booker seems to call out Paul George for trying to bait Klay Thompson
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) August 8, 2023
But for George, it may have started as far back as the Orlando bubble in August 2020 when Booker hit a buzzer-beating game winner over him, part of an 8-0 stay which led the team into this new era. Booker tormented the Clippers to the tune of 35 points on 25 shots and eight assists in the win.
Booker Bubble Buzzer Beaterpic.twitter.com/kc52MqCp92
— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) August 4, 2020
Wednesday, they’ll face off for the first time this season, and it comes at a good time.
The Suns, despite missing Kevin Durant for the game, are riding a four-game wining streak. Booker is averaging 21.5 points on 40% 3-point shooting with 6.3 assists over the win streak.
On the other hand, the Clippers have won three in a row and 12 of their last 14. George is averaging 22.1 points on 43.6% shooting from deep over that stretch.