This past weekend, rumors and explicit photos began making the rounds online, with the implication being that Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George may have been the victim of a catfish hoax. George strongly denied it on Monday when facing the media. Per the Indy Star:
“The whole story, as far as me being catfished, I know the girl that sent the pictures out,” George said after the Pacers’ shootaround. “It wasn’t a catfish story, it was a girl – I don’t want to get into the story but I know who’s behind it.”
Most sports fans know the term “catfish” when it was revealed that former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teʻo had an online relationship with someone he believed to be female, but was male.
The original story about George appeared on a gossip website on Saturday morning. Later that night, George continued his shooting slump in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies — making just 2-of-10 attempts — but said the off-court distractions have not bothered him.
“I’m good. A lot of it is just stuff trying to bring me down,” George said. “I’m good with it. The thing that just came out, it’s all a fake. It really don’t have any wear on me because I know it’s not true.”
Even so, George had to address the story hours before an important matchup against the Chicago Bulls. While sitting inside an empty United Center, veteran teammate David West warned how off-the-court distractions can make a player or team lose sight of what’s important.
“Guys have to be able to keep their personal life that – as personal. A lot of that comes with just maturity and understanding any little thing can derail what you’re trying to accomplish on the floor,” West said. “We just got to continue to grow. Guys have to continue to be in about this situation and when you make mistakes on the floor, own up to them. When you make mistakes off the floor, own up to them. When you’re not playing well, own up to it. And when we’re playing well and competing at a high level, we understand that we still got work to do. All of that kinda goes to that same mix, just maximizing what we’ve got going on.”