In order to beat your enemy, you have to understand your enemy and what they're capable of doing. You have to know how they think, get inside their mind, and learn to be a step ahead of what they want to do. In the NBA, it's become a common practice to train in the offseason with your fiercest competition because really it's the only way to know how to improve against the best players in the world.
Indiana Pacers' star Paul George seems to know this is true and that's why he's interested in learning from Miami Heat star LeBron James in a future offseason. He told Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders just that, admitting he could learn quite a bit from picking James' brain about the game and how to improve.
“It would be great to be able to pick his brain, pick his mind and just talk about the game because I think he's a player that can help me get to the next level and continue to keep going to the next level,” George told Basketball Insiders. “I wish some day we have that relationship where he is someone I can talk to—not during the season because I'm too competitive during the season—but maybe in the summertime.”
“He's someone that motivates me,” said George, who is averaging 22.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. “This league is all about guys being competitive and competing. And don't get me wrong, every time I'm matched up with him I'm going to try to get the best out of him and come out as the best player of that game. But at the same time, he's been someone that I looked up to. He's someone I'm going to continue to look up to because at the end of the day, the position I want to be in is where he's at.”
LeBron James and Kevin Durant have worked out together in the offseason before. Tim Duncan and Roy Hibbert worked out together last offseason. There are workout groups that involve Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and many other NBA superstars around the country in the summertime. George joining the ranks of the top players in the league and learning how to get better from them just seems like a natural progression.
For George, it shouldn't be looked at as a lack of competitive spirit. If anything, swallowing your pride and deciding to learn from your peers and those you want to join in the very elite of the elite shows your competitive spirit is alive and healthy. These two matched up in the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and provided a great battle at the forward position. George then improved even more this past offseason by honing his physical skills. Perhaps in this offseason or the next, he'll improve the physical skills by learning more of the mental aspect from the best player in the game.