Climbing Mount Improbable: Lakers Forward Devean George's Path to Success Proves Nonexistence of God

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How strange is it that a former Division III player ended up on a team with four Hall of Famers starting around him?

I just said that, and probably no one thought of Devean George, a small forward who played a small role for the Los Angeles Lakers in their failed experiment to bring Gary Payton and Karl Malone aboard a team led by a young No. 8 pre-Mamba-nickname Kobe Bryant and a still svelte and athletic Shaquille O’Neal (for at least the first part of his Lakers career).

It sounds like the plot of a really cheese movie. It may have already been prior to it somehow coming to fruition in the four-dimensional reality we seem to inhabit fairly consistently.

But things sometimes just defy logic, and of course sports is host to such scenarios just as much as any other field or venture in life.

If you told any player on my team at Centre College in Kentucky that we would end up playing alongside the second best player ever, the best defensive point guard of the 90s, the second all-time leading scorer, and most uniquely unguardable freak of nature the league had ever seen (before he proceeded to put on so much damn weight)…

If you told any of us we would go from playing with each other to a team like that, we would have told you that Centre didn’t admit students guillible enough to believe such fairy tales.

And yet…

Could you even make something so improbable like that up and have people believe it if it didn’t happen already?

You’re talking about a leap in competition so substantial that it’s just doesn’t seem like an adjustment a typical player could ever make. And that isn’t necessarily to say Devean George was all that exceptional of a small forward, at any rate. He was OK, and he was about replacement level for a starter. But he was a huge misfit on a team that featured some of the best talents to play in his era.

George lasted ten seasons in the NBA and posted career averages of 5.4 points per game and 2.5 rebounds per game.

The numbers aren’t very impressive, but he also only averaged 18.5 minutes per game over his 630 career games (108 of which he started, many of them with Mailman/Kobe/Shaq/Glove…GEORGE. – again – look at those names together).

The defensive adjustment can be boiled down pretty simple: It would have been like me saying because I held a D-3 team’s best player to 30% shooting that I could just make the leap to covering NBA small forwards out-of-position at 6’3″—or something.

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